Flyers

Flyers' Kevin Hayes brings positive outlook to NHL return, eyeing Stanley Cup

Flyers' Kevin Hayes brings positive outlook to NHL return, eyeing Stanley Cup

When the Flyers begin training camp on Monday in preparation for the NHL playoffs, there’s bound to be plenty of surprises along the way.

The continued emergence of COVID-19 in this country makes this situation very fluid, and despite the NHL having both of its bubble cities in Canada, there will still be a heavy emphasis on health protocols upon arrival. Flyers center Kevin Hayes thinks the empty buildings will be the thing that stands out most.

“It’s definitely going to be interesting with no fans and kind of being locked in a bubble, but that’s why we play the game. We play to win the Stanley Cup and this is just another chance to do that,” Hayes said Wednesday to Flyers senior director of public relations and communications Zack Hill.

While baseball’s return-to-play plan has teams playing in their home stadiums with no fans present, the NHL and NBA have elected for the bubble plan with the NBA playing entirely in Orlando, Florida, and hockey has targeted Edmonton, Alberta, and Toronto.

Hayes believes while the plan has a downside, there are plenty of silver linings.

“I don’t think anyone wants to live in a bubble at all, but it’ll be kind of nice to be with the guys every day that you haven’t seen for a while," Hayes said. "If they say that’s the safest way to finish the season, I think the guys will be cool with it.” 

The players do have the option of not playing and opting out of the NHL’s restart. We’ve seen it with players from the NBA and MLB, with some saying they aren’t going to play for various reasons citing family concerns, health concerns or things of that nature, but for Hayes, this was never on his mind.

“I never considered opting out," Hayes said. "I know the Flyers' organization has done their due diligence on making sure every player is protected and in the safest environment.” 

Hayes said he’s been extremely impressed with the protocols that have been in place since he’s returned to Philadelphia after working out with a trainer in Boston for much of the NHL pause.  

“I haven’t felt unsafe once," he said. "We pretty much test every day and they take every single situation pretty serious.” 

This is certainly a new world for the players, coaches and everyone involved as the league looks to resume, but if Hayes’ perspective is any indication, the Flyers are embracing the challenge in front of them and are ready to get going. This has been an interesting start to his Flyers career for the prized offseason free agent signing and Hayes is hoping to bring the city some hardware, regardless of the time or situation it happens. 

Sports Uncovered is on all podcast platforms: click here to subscribe now!

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers Talk podcast: Big-time start to round robin, but what's next?

Flyers Talk podcast: Big-time start to round robin, but what's next?

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall discuss the team's promising — but how promising? — start in the round robin.

Just how big is the Capitals game? What are the bigger decisions ahead? Let's dive in:

0:28 — Flyers fans couldn't have asked for a better start to the round robin

 9:02 — Which Flyers stood out most? Which players are next up?

• 18:04 — Are we believing in MoneyPuck.com's odds for the Flyers?

29:06 — Being back in studio for Flyers Pregame and Postgame shows.

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Don't expect the Flyers to be mingling with their rivals at Hotel X Toronto

Don't expect the Flyers to be mingling with their rivals at Hotel X Toronto

The Flyers have a day off the ice Tuesday.

Don't expect them to be making new friendships with their biggest rivals in the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament.

The Flyers are staying in Hotel X Toronto with the Bruins, Lightning, Capitals and Penguins during the tourney.

No problem.

"It’s been good," Scott Laughton said last week in a video interview. "I think we’ve mostly been together, guys have been together most of the time. Not much interaction with other teams or anything like that, I think everyone’s kind of on their own schedule and different practice times and stuff, so haven’t been seeing much of the other guys. I’m sure once playoffs ramp up, I don’t think there will be many hellos. It’s been good so far and very comfortable for us. We've got a great set up here; it’s been pretty smooth for us."

The seven other Eastern Conference teams in the tourney — Hurricanes, Islanders, Maple Leafs, Blue Jackets, Panthers, Rangers and Canadiens — were assigned to the Fairmont Royal York.

The NHL knows its clubs will leave the intensity on the ice.

"We had an assignment protocol based on regular-season finish, who had more point percentage than the others," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said last Friday in an interview with NBC Sports' Liam McHugh. "At the end of the day, our players are professionals. My guess is the teams may stick more to themselves other than the relationships 1-on-1 that players have with players on other teams."

After all, the Stanley Cup is on the line and players were away from their teammates for quite some time during this pause.

"We’re finding from our players, this is the Stanley Cup Playoffs and they are competing for the Stanley Cup, and it’s their interest to be separated," NHL chief content officer and senior executive VP of events and entertainment Steve Mayer said in July just before the teams traveled to the two league bubbles. "The team lounges, the player meeting rooms, the player meal rooms, of course are team by team.

"I think there are going to be certain areas where, let’s call them common areas. For the first five days we’ve put a very, very stringent tone for the fact that they have to be separated, both in restaurants and everywhere. But we really have felt that the players’ feedback is their interest to be separated throughout, and we’ll see how that evolves as the tournament moves on."

Sports Uncovered is on all podcast platforms: click here to subscribe now!

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More Flyers analysis for 24-team tournament

Costly injury comes at interesting time, creates more decisions for Flyers

• Feel good to be back? Despite possible injury, Flyers open tourney with a bang

From lineups to big picture, everything Flyers fans need to know for round robin

• Can the Flyers go all the way? Our Stanley Cup predictions are here

• Potential heavyweight coaching matchup for Flyers in 1st round

• Flyers celebrate return of hockey with OT drama and positives in exhibition

• So, about those Penguins ... 1st-round matchup for Flyers?

• Picture collage and signs show love for Flyers as they eye Cup run in Toronto

Couturier's goals in NHL bubble: Stanley Cup and an important baby book item

One of the most intriguing (and favorable?) 1st-round matchup possibilities

• Could Flyers still share the wealth against Blue Jackets in 1st round?

Would Islanders be Flyers' kryptonite if they meet in 1st round?

Flyers announce playoff roster, have fans going crazy over shirts

• All types of Flyers odds (including the Cup) as NHL's 24-team tourney begins

• Scott 'couldn't be happier' with Flyers, but there's more action to be done

• Trust the captain, he'll know what to do if the Flyers face the Hurricanes

• No scrimmage for Hart but Flyers' goalie provides important sight

• Analyzing Hart's situation, another Flyer becomes a dad, more

Lindblom has new contract, his comeback is on with Flyers

• Flyers-Canadiens is perfect on paper, but would it be a trap?

• What round-robin schedule change could mean for Flyers' strategy

• What happened? Voracek says calm down, he's fine ... now you know

Key Flyer missing, buzzing rookie, don't forget Ghost and more

• The Flyers' lineup, practicing celebrations, no hiding these two and more

• A 'dangerous card' in the Flyers' hand, Giroux still wows and more

• Fans can purchase Flyers playoff shirts with new slogan

• What it was like to go back to work at Flyers practice in different times

Analyzing the Flyers' schedule to open 24-team tournament

5 questions on Flyers' chances in 24-team tournament

Predictions for Flyers' best Game 1 lineup to start 24-team playoff

Who are the Flyers' top 5 reinforcements for 24-team tournament?

• Elliott has sweet new mask for Flyers' playoff run

• Flyers sign a player to extension at position of strength

What to know as NHL, NHLPA finish big step, announce schedule

Things get even better for Flyers in NHL's 24-team tournament

Finding the Flyers' best 1st-round matchup for Hart

Flyers have two top 50 pending UFAs; will they re-sign them?

• Everything Flyers fans need to know for NHL's 24-team tournament

Hockey insider details Flyers’ hotel

• Bettman gives Gritty the hard truth for why he can't be in Toronto bubble

Key dates, protocols announced as Flyers set to return