Every game, win or lose, I’ve got about 20 minutes. In 20 minutes I need to wash out everything - good or bad - that just happened on the ice, because waiting there for me is a little kid. A little kid who lost his dad.

My name is Travis Hamonic, and I am a defenseman for the Calgary Flames. My job on the ice is pretty intense, and I take my job seriously, but every single night when I step off the ice I quickly put things in perspective. And even now, after more than 500 NHL games and tons of visits with the kids, those moments never fail to hit home.

That’s because I was once in their shoes.

When I was a 10-year-old kid in Manitoba, I lost my own dad. And if it wasn’t for my family and my faith, I don’t know where I would be today.

My dad died of a heart attack at the age of 44, and my family was completely unprepared for it. I don’t know if anything could ever prepare you to hear news like that. When I woke up that morning it was just a normal day, and by the end of the night my world had been turned upside down.

As horrible as the situation was, it helped knowing that I wasn’t going through it all by myself. My mother and siblings were all going through it as well, and while I wouldn’t wish that situation upon anybody, we were all able to come closer together because of it.

The other thing that really helped was knowing that I would get to see my Dad again. As a Catholic, I believe that my Dad is in Heaven right now. And thanks to my faith in Jesus, and Him dying on the cross for my sins, I’ll get to join my Dad some day.

 
 

(Photo by Gerry Thomas/Calgary Flames)

My faith means everything to me, and God comes first in all aspects of my life. My Dad was no different. His faith was just as important to him, and if I ever needed an example of what God’s unconditional love looked like, all I had to do was look at my Dad.

It’s been 18 years since I last saw my Dad, but not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. That’s never been more true than these days, because now I’m a dad myself.

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(Title photo courtesy of Gerry Thomas/Calgary Flames)

Thomas Hager