Through 471 career appearances in the big leagues, Calgary Flames rearguard Travis Hamonic has established himself as one of the toughest in the game, ranking among the top 25 in hits dished out since he first debuted in the NHL.
And yet, even with a highlight reel filled with game-breaking checks and a fair few rounds of fisticuffs, you’d be hard pressed to find a player more dedicated to caring for those around him when off the ice.
Hamonic proved his worth in that regard during his time with the New York Islanders, honouring his late father Gerald — whom he lost to a heart attack at the age of 10 — with a program that allowed him to connect with children who have endured similar loss. At each home game, the defenceman invited a child who had lost a parent at a young age, gifting lower-bowl tickets for them and three guests, alongside the chance to meet Hamonic post-game.
The blueliner continued that program after being traded to Calgary prior to the 2017-18 season. In fact, for Hamonic, ensuring he could continue his charitable work was apparently top of mind after finding out about the impending change of address.
“Right after the trade to Calgary, it was probably the first conversation I had that same day,” Hamonic told Scott Oake and Louie DeBrusk during After Hours on Saturday. “To try to get the program up and running as fast as we can so the first home game we were ready to rock. And we were.”
After successfully launching the program in his new town, the former Islander is now expanding his reach and looking to help more families, as he’s set to unveil a new project aimed at bringing Indigenous families to Calgary for a memorable weekend of VIP treatment.
His inspiration for the admirable venture? Recently passed Canadian icon Gord Downie.
“The best thing I think you can do in this life is donate your time,” Hamonic told Oake and DeBrusk. “What a great thing that (Downie) did to donate the last couple years of his life to really give voice and to create a conversation on some darker moments in our country’s history. I’m extremely proud of my heritage and being Métis, and my wife and I took the initiative to follow Gord’s lead and help out as best as we can.
“So we’ve decided to bring in some families from all the Northern territories of Canada throughout the season, and we’re going to fly them in and, between us and the Flames, with all the accommodations, we’re really going to give them the five-star treatment right through the entire weekend so they can really enjoy themselves.”
The Northern Project, as Hamonic is calling it, is set to begin in mid-December.
Listen to Hamonic’s full interview with Oake and DeBrusk above to hear more about his charity work, adjusting to Calgary, and how he dealt with grief early in his career.