Kevin Hayes

Kevin Hayes earns Flyers' 2019-20 Gene Hart Memorial Award

Kevin Hayes earns Flyers' 2019-20 Gene Hart Memorial Award

At the beginning of Flyers training camp in September, Kevin Hayes said with a slight smile:

“I think the fans should be excited — I think they're excited, some of them might not be too excited — but I feel great, this is the best I've ever felt and probably the most in shape, most excited I've ever been in my hockey career."

With time, fans have gotten to know Hayes — the player and person.

And they've taken a liking to him.

Further proof of that came Monday as Hayes was named the recipient of the Flyers' 2019-20 Gene Hart Memorial Award, which is given to the Flyer who demonstrates the most "heart,” an honor voted on by members of the Philadelphia Flyers Fan Club. The club will make a $1,000 donation to a charity of Hayes’ choosing.

“I’m humbled that the fan club chose me to receive this award, especially considering all of our success has come from an entire team effort and the willingness to give everything we have to win,” Hayes said in a statement released by the Flyers. "This being my first year, I felt right at home from Day 1. I love this team, organization, fan base and city. It’s hard not to love playing at the Wells Fargo Center every night in front of the best fans in the league.”

With a mixture of lightheartedness and leadership, Hayes has won over his new teammates and fans during the first season of his seven-year, $50 million contract. At first, Hayes' style of play and past offensive production didn't scream excitement for fans when the 6-foot-5 center was acquired and signed in June 2019. However, Hayes provides winning qualities that don't always pop out at you — puck protection, disruptive size, defensive abilities and prowess on the penalty kill.

He has made those strengths clear in Year 1 with the Flyers. He was also on pace to break his career high of 25 goals (he finished with 23 in 69 games) before the coronavirus outbreak cut the 2019-20 regular season short.

“I think at the beginning, with the media and the fans, when you sign that deal, you want to come in and be on everybody’s good graces right away,” Hayes said in November. “When you’re not putting up points, it’s easy to think you’re not playing great hockey.”

Flyers fans are now on board with Hayes' hockey and heart.

The Flyers are handing out their annual team awards throughout this week. Below is the schedule:


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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Kevin Hayes

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Kevin Hayes

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances.

Today we will be looking at Kevin Hayes. 

Destra

Man oh man am I thrilled to be giving Hayes the grade he’s getting today. This time last year, Flyers fans were beyond the point of disappointment at the signing of the center — it’s safe to say things have taken a turn for the best. The Hayes signing was instantly justified before the 2019-20 season was even in full swing because of the news about Nolan Patrick and his migraine disorder. Had he not been brought in, the lines down the middle would have been very weak. 

Hayes didn’t miss a single one of the 69 games the Flyers played this season. During that time, he racked up an impressive 41 points (23 goals, 18 assists). He also had a career best in shorthanded goals (four) and game-winning goals (five). 

On top of the player he has been on the ice, Hayes has also helped the Flyers in many other ways. He’s a big personality and jumped into a leadership role almost instantly. I’d say he exceeded expectations on the first year of his contract. 

A+ … not bad for a former ref

Emmer

Kevin “I used to ref” Hayes brought a lot of excitement in his first year with the orange and black.

Because of the shortened season, Hayes recorded 23 goals in under 70 games, just two markers short of his career high. His 200-foot style that was anticipated in the preseason thrived in many ways throughout the year, especially on the penalty kill.

Last season, the Flyers' PK ranked 26th in the league, operating at 78.5 percent. This season, the PK ranked 11th at 81.8 percent — Hayes had a lot to do with it. He also led the team with four shorthanded goals — the most in his career.

Offensively, you could argue his consistency could have been stronger. He had a stretch in early November during which he went 10 games without a point and another six-game drought in early February, but when he did end up making it on the score sheet, he was a game-changer. The Flyers were 19-0-1 when Hayes scored a goal during the regular season; he was a spark plug out there. He loved big-game situations, as well — five game-winning goals can attest to that.

Away from his skill, Hayes brought energy, fun off the ice and extremely creative nicknames (very important). 

A- for Hayes.

Fordyce 

Hayes began his Flyers tenure with a big contract and big expectations. Last offseason, Hayes signed a seven-year, $50 million deal, which raised some eyebrows. At that time, Hayes had eclipsed the 20-goal plateau only one time in his career. However, through 69 games this season he had 23 goals, just two short of his career high, and he almost certainly would have bested that if the Flyers had played a full 82 games. 

Hayes delivered the full package to a team that desperately needed that when it signed him after trading for his contractual rights ahead of free agency. His two-way game is his most valuable asset and this season we’ve seen Hayes single-handedly kill penalties by keeping possession of the puck. It’s one thing to sign a big-time deal, it’s another to deliver on the expectations set forth by said deal. Additionally, Hayes is an invaluable member of the team in terms of locker room chemistry.

Hayes gets an A.

Hall

During his first regular season with the Flyers, Hayes more than lived up to the hype and pressure of signing a seven-year, $50 million deal in this city.

While we tend to fixate on offensive production in this game, especially for higher-paid players, Hayes had an immeasurable impact on the Flyers in the locker room, which can be just as important as any statistic.

But statistically speaking, he also did plenty of good things. Not only did the 28-year-old center make the Flyers tougher to play against, but he was also on pace to break his career high of 25 goals (he finished with 23 in 69 games) and did wonders for the team's penalty kill. In fact, Hayes scored four shorthanded goals, the same number the Flyers put up as a team in 2018-19 over a full 82-game season.

An A- for Hayes because his impact has already been felt in a multitude of ways.

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Flyers rack up 3 honors in 2020 NHL Fan Choice Awards, but was Gritty snubbed?

Flyers rack up 3 honors in 2020 NHL Fan Choice Awards, but was Gritty snubbed?

Flyers fans, you did well.

For the 2020 NHL Fan Choice Awards, the orange and black reeled in the honors as Jakub Voracek won best beard, Kevin Hayes funniest player and the Flyers best building.

There was, however, a pretty big upset that will leave a certain orange furry fella pretty upset: Gritty did not win best mascot, finishing in second place to the Golden Knights' Chance.

Hey, if Gritty needed some motivation for the playoffs, he just got it.

It shouldn't be a surprise that the Wells Fargo Center was named top building as the Flyers were the NHL's No. 1 home team at 25-6-4 with a plus-53 goal differential and a league-best .771 points percentage. Attendance began to steadily rise as the Flyers climbed the standings.

Meanwhile, fans clearly know and respect Voracek's beard. Like we wrote in May, when you're compared to Gritty and your beard has its own Chia Pet, you're doing something right.

"I was looking in the mirror," Voracek said of his initial thoughts when he first saw Gritty.

"Jake in April or March with long hair and a long beard."


Teammates and fans know why Hayes is deserving of the funniest player award. During his first year with the Flyers, Hayes has seamlessly lightened the mood in the team's dressing room while also providing leadership. He has been a great fit for the city as fans have grown to love Hayes' humor, personality and mic'd up segments.

“He’s a very outgoing individual," Carter Hart said in December.

Fans can view all the results and winners right here.

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