Whenever a player begins the next chapter of their career with a new team, there is always a chance that they may come across a familiar face. Luckily, that's the case for Kevin Hayes.
It's the first time we're seeing Hayes on the ice with the Flyers. Normally during training camp, it takes some time to shake off the rust of the offseason and prepare for October — but doing that while also adjusting to a new team and city isn't typically an easy task for anyone.
It doesn't seem like the case for the newly acquired center. Hayes is here and already looking to make an impact. His previous relationship with head coach Alain Vigneault has already helped him in the first days of camp.
"It's old stuff obviously with a new team," Hayes said Friday. "But with the same coach that I had my first four years, it's relieving to be able to get as comfortable with the coach as soon as possible."
This relationship is turning out to benefit those around the two as well.
As soon as I signed here, I was getting text messages from some of the players. I'm an older guy now — kind of. Try to help all the young guys, try to explain how quick the drills go from one drill to the other. He likes to keep it short but he likes to keep the pace up, so I try to tell everyone about that. It was fun.
The 27-year-old knows that he wants to do as much as he can on and off the ice to help his new team. He already has a leadership mentality in the locker room.
"When I was younger, I looked up to guys and I'm just trying to be that guy now," Hayes said.
It was no secret at the time of free agency this offseason, the Flyers wanted Hayes. Toward the end of the 2018-19 NHL season, one of Chuck Fletcher's first moves was to trade a 2019 fifth-round pick for the contractual rights to Hayes prior to July 1.
Later this summer, after Hayes' name was signed on the dotted line, a report by TSN's Frank Seravalli surfaced on Crossing Broad's "Snow the Goalie" podcast about the newest Flyer. He noted that Hayes ran into a current NHL player during the Stanley Cup Final and told him the only way he would sign with the Flyers is if they overpaid him.
The specific incident was not directly brought up to Hayes, but he certainly made the effort to touch on the matter.
Everyone knows July 1 is a big deal. Rumors came out about some stupid stuff but that's all in the past. Someone made up something and that's all I'm going to say about that.
There is still plenty of time before the start of the season to build chemistry on the ice with his teammates and grow into the veteran leader he hopes to become, but he is already in a good place.
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