Kevin Hayes said new coach John Tortorella told him he plans to push him to be a better player.
The Philadelphia Flyers second-line center is all in.
He also supports Tortorella’s notion that the Flyers’ culture has to be altered. The Tortorella hiring started the process.
“Obviously, something needed to be changed,’’ Hayes said during a news conference Monday at the Voorhees Training Center.
The Flyers, crushed by injuries, finished with the second-worst record in franchise history last season, collecting just 61 points.
“It was embarrassing for our group,” said Hayes, who played in just 48 games because of various injuries. “We weren’t very good.”
.@KevinPHayes12 is very excited about having Torts here and the upcoming season for @NHLFlyers. All vets are already here. Hayes, who is totally healthy, called it a great sign. pic.twitter.com/D9QeOSGvnm
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) September 12, 2022
Added Hayes: “If we’re going to change the culture, Torts is the right guy. He’s kind of a no-nonsense guy. Holds everyone accountable, whether you’ve played 1,000 games or you’re a rookie. You need accountability. That’s how you win.’’
The Flyers are preparing for Tortorella’s demanding training camp. Most of the veterans reported at least two weeks early for camp, which starts Sept. 22.
“I think this will be the toughest training camp any of us other than Cam (Atkinson, who played for Tortorella in Columbus) have gone though,” Hayes said. “I think that will bring us together.”
He said “the whole team should be excited. Fans are kind of down on our team right now, but it’s a new year, a new team. I think we’re off to the right start with our whole team showing up pretty early.’’
Hayes, 30, said he feels totally healthy. He had three surgeries in an eight-month period before or during last season. In January, he had a procedure to drain fluid because of an infection in his groin region.
“I feel way better,’’ Hayes said. “When I first tried to come back, I wasn’t 100 percent. The infection was holding me back. Once that got cleaned out, it was night and day how much better I felt. … This is the first summer in a few where I could go into training doing everything. Nothing was holding me back.’’
He had 22 points over the last 28 games last season, leading the team in that span. The old Hayes was back.
If Hayes and Sean’s Couturier, who played in just 29 games last year and required back surgery, can stay healthy for the whole season, the Philadelphia Flyers will be an improved team. Those two players are Philly’s top two centers.
“I think on paper, we have a really good team,’’ Hayes said. “Last year I didn’t think we had good stats as a defensive team. Everybody should be excited because we’re getting back players we missed a lot last year.”
The X-factor, of course, is defenseman Ryan Ellis, who played just four games last year because of a pelvic injury and is expected to miss time at the start of this season. No one knows how much time he will be out.
But for now, the Flyers are looking at the positives — such as the return of Couturier and Hayes.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) September 13, 2022