Flyers Training Camp Day 2 Update: Kevin Hayes Pays Tribute to Brother Jimmy
The Flyers were back on the ice on Friday for Day 2 of training camp. Alain Vigneault said that the team put the focus on neutral zone work, with each day of camp prior to their first preseason game on Tuesday being dedicated to a specific focus. Saturday will involve more forechecking and Sunday will begin special teams work.
Line combinations remained the same from Thursday as expected.
With more preparations happening on the ice, the story of Day 2 of training camp came off it. Kevin Hayes was not on the ice, as he begins recovering from abdominal surgery earlier this week. He did meet with the media, his first appearance in front of them since the passing of his brother, Jimmy Hayes.
“Everyone knows what happened. It has been a tough month,” Hayes said. “Life is fragile. It’s never fun to lose someone who is your best friend, someone you looked up to, and paired with you for your whole life. You’ve seen in tributes with so much going on around the hockey world. My brother was a special person. He touched a lot of lives. He really enjoyed life and enjoyed helping others. It sucks that he’s gone. It happened way too fast. I’ll never forget him, obviously.
“I’ve been dreading this conversation with you guys, but there are some people I truly would like to thank. The hockey world is an impressive community. It’s been crazy with the amount of people that have reached out to myself and my family. The amount of people who showed up to the services was incredible. Some people that were very close with my brother, who I didn’t even know that are in the hockey world, reached out and sent flowers to my family.”
Hayes mentioned a few people by name. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher and Vigneault organized a team bus to go to the services. Brian Burke, now with the Penguins, has checked in almost daily. Even people in the hockey world that Hayes doesn’t know well, such as Sidney Crosby, reached out. Hayes focused on how special that makes the community.
“It shows when we’re on the ice. It is truly a battle. We want to win every game, but the hockey community is a really special community,” Hayes said. “It goes much further than playing against each other on the ice. I was totally taken back with the support I received. There are some people, to this day, that check in.”
While Hayes won’t be playing for some time as he recovers, he has given some thought to the night he takes the ice for the first game without his brother.
“It’s going to be weird stepping on the ice for the first time knowing that my brother is not going to be there. He was my biggest supporter,” Hayes said. “If I had a bad game, it was AV’s fault, not mine. If I wasn’t playing a lot of minutes, he wanted to talk to AV and Chuck. It’s something that I’ll miss. It’s something that I think will really push me this year. When I’m having bad days or bad games or not playing up to how the fans want me to, I’ll probably just think of my brother. He’ll, hopefully, push me through. It’s going to be weird for sure. I don’t think my life will be the same, honestly. It is really nice to be in Philly with these guys, being around the team, and being here with you guys.”
Hayes certainly has a large showing of support around him, especially some close friends. He’s living with free-agent signing Keith Yandle, who he called his second-best friend to only his brother. Yandle has known the Hayes family for a long time and is especially happy he can be there for Hayes in a time of need.
“I think it is a good thing I am able to be here for him,” Yandle said. “He is there for me too, so it is one of those things. We both don’t like to be alone, so we are able to hangout every day. It will be good too, especially during the season to be able to sit down and watch games. I think it is going to be a lot of fun.”
“Things happen for a reason. Obviously, I was pretty negative for a bit in the last month and then you realize what has turned out to be and who is here with me,” Hayes said. “I am living with Keith and he is probably my best friend in this whole entire world after my brother. The fact that he is living with me is special. I have some bad days and he is just an awesome dude. He really is. You guys will get to know him. He really just makes it a lot easier. Cam Atkinson was my brother’s roommate at school, so I have known Cam for a long time. [Derick Brassard], I played with really early in my career. He used to come to Boston and be with me and my brother all the time. [James van Riemsdyk] played with my brother for a while. It is cool how things played out and I think it will make things a lot easier.”
Though he is not on the ice at the moment, Hayes is still plenty involved in training camp. Vigneault noted earlier in the week that Hayes immediately told him following the surgery that he wanted to be around the team and to help in any way he can. Vigneault praised Hayes on Friday for what he’s been able to do so far.
“I love the fact that he’s been at all of the video sessions, and that he wants to be here to help, especially with the new guys that are coming in, whether they’d be young players or veteran players from other teams,” Vigneault said. “Kevin’s been with me for a while, so he knows what I’m particular about and what I’m non-negotiable about. He can share that with everyone, and it makes for the adjustment, the adaptation much easier.”
- Goaltender Martin Jones met with the media and focused on simply putting his best foot forward in games. It is expected that Jones will have a lighter workload than in seasons past and he believes that could help in the upcoming season. “My focus is just to help the team win, to be pushing Carter and competing for playing time,” Jones said. “It can be tough at times throughout the season, especially with the dense schedule last year, too. To get that time in at practice when you are playing in between games is the goal. To utilize practice time the best you can, so you’re performing at your best.”
- Yandle also discussed his ironman streak, which sits at 922 consecutive games, 43 away from tying an NHL record. “I would say a lot of luck,” Yandle said. “I think every guy once you get to this level has the same type of compete and will to play. You want to be out there every day with your teammates, and I think for me I have been fortunate. I love coming to the rink whether it is practice day or game day. You love being here with the guys. The training staff and stuff like that I have had have been great and it is the same here.”
- Vigneault closed his availability with an announcement regarding Oskar Lindblom, and it was certainly a positive one. One last thing, Oskar went in for his scan. I don’t know if he told anybody, but he’s cancer-free still. That’s real positive.” Indeed, it is.
Day 3 of training camp will be on Saturday with on-ice sessions at the same times. Group C will skate from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. followed by the two main groups from 10 to 11:45 a.m. and 1 to 2:45 p.m.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.