Travis Hamonic says there are no hard feelings with regards to the punch that broke his jaw in two places.
Speaking for the first time since the night of his opening-game tussle with Vancouver’s Erik Gudbranson, the rugged Flames rearguard shrugged when asked Tuesday morning if his combatant reached out to him following surgery.
"It’s a fight — it happens," said Hamonic, who took exception to Gudbranson running rookie Dillon Dube eight seconds into the youngster’s NHL career and engaged with the six-foot-five Canuck.
"I got caught with a lucky punch. I have over 50 fights in my career and I know what it’s all about. Two guys going at it and every once in a while, you get caught with one. It is what it is."
Hamonic returned late in the first period with a bubble protecting his face and finished the game despite damage that he required surgery to screw plates in two places along his jaw.
Replays of the punch made it clear Hamonic was stung by the blow, causing him to miss the next three weeks.
His jaw didn’t need to be wired shut so Hamonic was able to maintain his weight, work on conditioning and started skating on his own five days after surgery.
He said he didn’t suffer a concussion in the fight.
"No, just my face took the brunt of it — my head was OK," he chuckled, adding he wouldn’t modify his game or approach even while wearing the facial protection.
"The way I play the game is the way I play the game. I’m a believer if you play cautious or play worried out there that’s when something happens. Once we get medical clearance I’m just like everybody else.
"(Injuries) are uncontrollable. It probably won’t be the last time I get hurt in my career. As much as I hope it is, the game’s quick and things happen out there."
Gudbranson said all the right things after the fight, insisting he felt bad for the damage done and that he admired Hamonic for coming to Dube’s defence following a hit he admitted was a bad one.
Hamonic’s return comes at a good time for a Flames team struggling defensively and facing one of the most dangerous teams in the league, Pittsburgh.
His presence as a shut-down defenceman is desperately needed, as is his leadership.
While the result was regrettable, every one of his teammates lauded the 28-year-old’s decision to stand up for Dube.
"I think that it was a young guy and (Gudbranson) took a pretty healthy run at him," said Hamonic of his rationale behind instigating the fight.
"If it wasn’t me, it was probably 19 other guys ready to go.
"That’s the team mentality. I think that’s something you build on a team. I think if I got run like that there’d be 19 guys lined up to be right there. If you build that pack mentality it makes a big difference. I think it’s just something you expect as a team.
"That’s the neat thing about our sport, especially about our team, we’ve got a pretty close group here."
"I’m going to keep my head up now," joked Dube, when asked about the impact of Hamonic’s return.
"I’m excited to see him in — he brings a lot of energy into the room. We really missed him on the ice for his presence there."