When word first surfaced on Wednesday that the New York Islanders were attempting to trade defenseman Travis Hamonic -- at his request -- it was an extremely surprising development. Not only because it seemingly came out of nowhere, but because Hamonic is signed to a long-term contract with the team and is one of the best defenders on the roster.
On Thursday, Hamonic and the Islanders confirmed that he has in fact requested a trade so he can be closer to his Winnipeg home for personal reasons.
He insisted that it has nothing to do with the organization.
"I know people are going to say and write what they want and all that stuff," Hamonic said, via NHL.com. "But it has nothing to do with the organization or how I've been treated here six years as a player and another two or three since I've been drafted."
Here is more what he had to say after his conversation with his teammates where he informed them of his request.
"I would have liked to have the chance to talk to them and not have them seen it online first, but it is what it is and those things can't be changed, unfortunately. It was difficult. I guess you can ask them, but they were certainly very understanding of a personal situation, as I hope anyone would be in this situation.
"Those are guys you go to war with. Some of those guys I've been playing with for six years and really know really well. [Capuano] always talks about a brotherhood in there and everything else, but it certainly is. I was just explaining what was going on. It was probably one of the more difficult conversations I think I've had in life. It certainly wasn't easy, but they've been there for me for many years now in different situations in my life and my career and they've certainly been there this morning."
Islanders coach Jack Capuano said that he has known of Hamonic's request for quite some time and that he has spoken with him about it over the past couple of months.
General manager Garth Snow did not speak to the media on Thursday.
Hamonic added that even though he requested the move, he does not want to handcuff the team and that whatever Snow thinks is best is going to be fine with him.
"It hasn't been an issue for me so far this season," said Hamonic. "I continue to try to work hard and win here. That's our goal, and one thing I can guarantee and promise is it's not going change how I play on the ice."
He would not go into detail about what the issue is, saying only that "the root of all this is a personal family matter of mine that I hold dear to my heart."
Hamonic lost his father when he was only 10 years old. Since the 2012 season Hamonic has met with at least one kid that has lost a parent at a young age after every Islanders home game, taking them on a behind-the-scenes tour of the arena and locker room and speaking with them about his own experiences from losing a parent.
Hamonic, 25, has spent his entire career with the Islanders since the team drafted him in the second round (No. 56 overall) of the 2008 NHL draft. He made his debut with the team during the 2010-11 season and quickly developed into one of their most reliable players on the blue line. He was rewarded with a seven-year, $27 million contract extension in June, 2013. In 342 career games he has scored 18 goals to go with 96 assists, including three assists in 19 games with the Islanders this season.
It's definitely a delicate situation for the Islanders.
There is obviously a human element at play here, and even though we don't know exactly what Hamonic is dealing with it is important enough that he's asked to be moved from a situation and a team where he seems to be happy. And if that's important, you want to try and satisfy that request.
But the Islanders as an organization are still in the business of winning hockey games, and Hamonic is a valuable player in that regard. Moving a player like him certainly hurts that objective not only because he's a very good player, but because it's a tough spot to get fair value back in return.
A trade does not appear to be imminent.