When the NHL return to play was being finalized, the NHLPA demanded a clause for players who felt it wasn’t safe enough to return so they could opt out and not be penalized. It was confirmed in the agreement and a deadline of 72 hours would be given for anyone who felt it was too much of a risk to return.
Monday at 5:00pm was the deadline for players to opt out, and at this point, only nine players have decided not to return. Let’s have a look at each of them individually, starting with Karl Alzner.
Alzner spent most of the year in the AHL with the Laval Rocket while suiting up for the Montreal Canadiens in only four games this season.
Next on the list is Steven Kampfer of the Boston Bruins who actually took the time to discuss possibly taking part while travelling with his family. He then took to Twitter to make his announcement. “After speaking with my wife, family and my agent, I have decided that I am opting out of the return to play. This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. My wife and son have a congenital heart defect which can cause complications with COVID-19. We have taken this very seriously. Family will always be my priority.”
Mike Green: Green made it aware to his general manager, Ken Holland, that he as well would be opting out. “Due to the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 and after much consideration, I’ve decided for deeply personal family health reasons, not to participate in the return to play,” Green said in a statement.
“This has been a hard decision knowing I’m going to miss the opportunity to compete in the playoffs with a Stanley Cup contender. I wish the best of luck to the guys and I appreciate the Edmonton Oilers support.”
Green started the year in Detroit with the Red Wings before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers.
Roman Polak: The Czech veteran defensemen has already signed a deal to return to the Czech Republic next season and won’t report to NHL training camp. He played 41 games this season and finished with four assists and a -6 with the Dallas Stars.
Sven Baertschi: Baertschi has informed Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning that he is officially opting out. “It was a difficult decision, but ultimately one we respect and understand,” Benning said when asked to comment on it.
Baertschi spent most of his season the AHL with the Utica Comets where he finished the regular season with 13 goals and 33 assists in 43 games played. He has two points in six games played with the Canucks as well.
Travis was the first player officially to opt out of the NHL return to play. In a statement to the league, he comments, “Due to what my daughter already has gone through and the concerns, if she were to catch COVID-19, I’ve decided to opt out and seek a leave of absence from the Calgary Flames for the remainder of the playoffs.”
“I wish I could lace up my skates and be out there battling, blocking a shot and helping the team win, but my family has and always will come first. Being my little kids’ dad everyday is the most important job I have.”
“I love this game and my team. This is a decision that is extremely hard for me to make. I wish my teammates the best of luck and good health. I look forward to joining the C of Red, the greatest fans in the NHL, in cheering on my teammates as they chase the opportunity to bring the Stanley Cup home to Calgary.”
To finish it off, we actually even have a coach who has decided not to return. Florida Panthers assistant coach Mike Kitchen has decided to opt out of the return to play.
“It as a difficult decision to say the least,” Kitchen said. “But the right decision for me and my family.” The Florida Panthers also mentioned they support Kitchen 100% in his decision not to return. He was in his first year with the Panthers as part of the coaching staff under Joel Quenneville.