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Hamonic on the mend

The Islanders d-man suffered a terrible injury, but is ready to move on as quickly as possible

Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 9:41 AM ET / News
By Cory Wright
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Hamonic on the mend
You are standing in front of your net and a defenseman tees up a 100 mph slap shot from the blue line. The frozen rubber puck hits a stick in the slot and with no time to react, the puck catches you under your visor and square in the face. You fall to the ice and when you remove your hands from your face, all you see is red.

Travis Hamonic is helped by trainers after being hit in the face with a deflected puck.
For Travis Hamonic, this frightening situation played out in an unfortunate, grisly reality on Feb. 4. Facing the Buffalo Sabres, defenseman Christian Ehrhoff’s howitzer deflected off of Frans Nielsen’s stick and struck Hamonic in the nose. The Islanders defenseman immediately hit the ice and was rushed to hospital. He has been sidelined since.

“When I first got hit in the nose, I felt the pain right away and it felt like my face was basically numb,” he said. “Instantly there was a lot of blood. I remember just thinking that my nose was inverted. I thought it was dented in. I didn’t think it was there anymore.”

With blood pouring from his face, Hamonic and team doctors’ first reaction was that the shot broke his nose and cut it badly. The Islanders reigning defensive ironman of 113 consecutive games wanted to return and finish the game, but the situation was too dire.

“I shattered my nose and ripped my septum off,” he said. “As many stitches that I had in front and inside in the back, it was a lot more than a typical broken nose that some people thought it was at first.

“People know me and what kind of character I have. To keep me out of the lineup, it’s got to be something pretty significant.”

The Islanders training staff rushed him off the ice, into the locker room and eventually to the hospital. Hamonic, team doctors and even doctors at North Shore LIJ didn’t anticipate the extent of the damage until he went in for surgery Sunday morning.

“It was a scary moment for me,” Hamonic said. “I didn’t think it was that severe. You realize it’s pretty dangerous when a lot of doctors and plastic surgeons and a lot of people are looking at you.”

"Someone was looking after me out there and helped me turn my head at the last second and made sure I didn’t damage my eyes in any way. From a spiritual standpoint, I’m pretty grateful that it wasn’t a lot worse than it was" - Travis Hamonic
After surgery, Hamonic was kept in the hospital for five days. He couldn’t eat for risk of infecting the stitches in his nose, couldn’t raise his heart rate for fear of bursting the stitches and had tubes and padding blocking up his nose.

“It was five days of hell,” Hamonic said.

Hamonic’s mother, Lisa, eased the hellish 120-hour hospital stay. She made it to Long Island by Sunday afternoon to look after her son and as a registered nurse, had the proper training to do so.

“I’m pretty grateful and thankful that the Islanders took care of that for me,” Hamonic said. “It made a pretty big difference because I was in the hospital there and the team was on the road. It was first-class all the way from the Islanders organization, taking care of everything. They couldn’t have treated the situation any better.”

Once he left the hospital, Hamonic was ordered to get plenty of bed rest (10 days worth), keep activity to the minimum and focus on his recovery. If his nose became infected or started bleeding, his three to four-week timetable would go back to day one.

To his relief, Hamonic skated on Monday and is working himself back into game shape. While this type of injury usually takes four weeks to recover from, the Islanders blueliner hopes to be back sooner. 

“It’s been a long couple weeks not to play,” he said. “That’s behind me now and I’m grateful it wasn’t worse than it was.”

Moving forward requires not dwelling on or reliving the incident. Hamonic watched the play once on tape and that’s enough for him. The upbeat Hamonic is also putting things in perspective; had he not turned his head slightly at the last second, he could have taken the puck directly in his eye.

“It’s definitely a blessing from God,” he said. “Someone was looking after me out there and helped me turn my head at the last second and made sure I didn’t damage my eyes in any way. From a spiritual standpoint, I’m pretty grateful that it wasn’t a lot worse than it was.”

Hamonic skating with Evgeni Nabokov on Feb. 22 at Nassau Coliseum.l
Hamonic will don a cage when he re-takes the ice, although a return date isn’t scheduled. He’s come back from a similar injury in junior; he had his jaw shattered and wired shut for five weeks.
Still, Hamonic says he won’t shy away from blocking shots or battles in front of the net. It’s part of his identity as a player.

“Maybe now that I have the cage, you’ll see me diving in front of more with my head,” Hamonic joked.

As for where this ranks in his worst career injuries…

“It’s a toss up I guess between the two of those,” Hamonic said sitting in his stall after a one-hour session on the ice. “Hopefully it stays that way for a long time.”




1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47


K. Okposo 49 15 26 -7 41
J. Tavares 48 19 21 -4 40
F. Nielsen 51 15 18 0 33
B. Nelson 51 20 11 1 31
M. Grabovski 51 9 15 2 24
J. Bailey 50 9 15 5 24
N. Leddy 51 3 20 -8 23
A. Lee 51 7 15 1 22
R. Strome 40 5 14 -6 19
C. Clutterbuck 50 11 4 6 15
J. Halak 12 11 4 .917 2.28
T. Greiss 14 6 2 .929 2.26
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