Photo: NY Islanders
He looks up into the top left rafters of the ice rink. He spots the image of the old farmer that sits there. The farmer, a proud father? This is the Nassau Coliseum, home rink to the New York Islanders. Home to a defenseman who really is far from his childhood home, which happens to be south of Winnipeg in Canada. Number 3 Travis Hamonic looks up at the rafters at the beginning, of every home game. He is looking for the image of his father who passed away in 2000. His father used to sit in the top left rafter seat to watch his son play hockey. After the death of his dad nothing was the same again.
Picture now. A mature Travis Hamonic. A player who has a seven-year contract with the New York Islanders worth over 27 million dollars. A man who still looks at the top left rafters at the beginning of each home game.
In January 2012, Travis started a club. He calls it “a sh–ty club.” It is for kids who love hockey but who’s lives have changed because of a parent’s death. Similar to a one-on-one exchange of emotional feelings club, it is a kind of self imposed therapy group. Both parties feel the same and can express these emotions to each other in a safe place, which happens to be in the New York Islander’s locker room. Travis gives these kids guidance when the kids feel lost. He hands out his personal email address so the kids can reach him in a crisis. An immediate bond usually happens when the child meets Travis. It’s the grief that brings them together. He sees himself in some of the fans that join this club. Travis keeps reminding the kids that they are not alone and he is always there for them. This group is healthy for both parties, a therapy session like no- other.
The kids believe that Travis is helping them, but number 3 believes that the kids are really helping him instead. I believe it is a two-way street and both parties get what they need. Tomorrow will come and it is supposed to get easier, but that doesn’t mean the hurt and pain goes away. That is something that is important for the kids to understand and accept. I believe that Travis Hamonic is still learning that rule of life.