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Flyers’ Kevin Hayes is Masterton finalist; could give Philly back-to-back winners



Kevin Hayes. Philadelphia Flyers

To no one’s surprise, Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes was one of the three finalists named Monday for the Masterton Trophy.

The award is presented annually to the player who exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication.

The New York Islanders’ Zdeno Chara, 45, who played in his 24th season and ranked second on the team with a plus-8 rating, and Montreal goalie Carey Price were the other finalists. During the season, Chara set the NHL record for most career games played by a defenseman. He has played in 1,680.

Price returned to the Habs this season after spending time in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. He played in five games for Montreal and had a 3.63 GAA and .878 save percentage.

No date has been set for the award announcement, but it will be either during the conference finals or Stanley Cup Final, per the NHL.

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Hayes could become the fifth Flyer to win the award. He was originally nominated by the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, and the top three vote-getters were named finalists.

Each of the 32 teams had a nominee.

Tragic year

It has been a draining and tragic year for Hayes, whose brother, Jimmy, a former NHL player, died on Aug. 23. Kevin Hayes called him his best friend.

Just before the start of the Philadelphia Flyers’ training camp in September, Hayes had the second of three surgeries in an eight-month span.

Hayes, who turned 30 last week, had two abdominal surgeries before he was able to play this season. In January, he had a procedure to drain fluid because of an infection in his groin region.

The veteran center said playing hockey was extra important to him this season.

“It’s definitely been a whirlwind of a year for myself and my family,” Hayes said recently. “After what went down in August, I didn’t know how this year was going to play out. It’s been an up-and-down year, surgery-wise, and trying to stay really connected with my family. Trying to check in every day while trying to focus and play.”

Hayes, who took on a bigger leadership role when Claude Guiroux was traded, dedicated the season to his brother.

After returning March 5 from his latest surgery, Hayes finished with 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) over his last 28 games and was the Flyers’ leading scorer in that span.

The Philadelphia Flyers’ Oskar Lindblom won the Masterton last year. Other Flyers to win the award: Ian Laperriere in 2011, Tim Kerr in 1989, and Bobby Clarke in 1972.

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