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Flyers’ Kevin Hayes Hints That He Expects to Be Traded

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Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers
Center-turned-winger Kevin Hayes doesn't sound confident that he will be back with the Flyers. Photo: AP.

Kevin Hayes loves Philadelphia. Loves playing for the Flyers. Loves the fans’ passion, the city’s restaurants, the sports teams.

He would enjoy being here for at least three more years, but …

The veteran forward strongly hinted he feels the Philadelphia Flyers will part ways with him this summer.

His playing time decreased significantly in the season’s second half, and he was placed on a line with bottom-six players.

“I picked up the message that was sent months ago,” he said during exit interviews with the media Friday at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees.

The message: The Philadelphia Flyers want to get younger and want to clear some much-needed cap space. Hayes has an annual $7.1 million cap hit for the next three seasons.

“I don’t know if they want guys making the money I’m making, playing 10 minutes a night.” he said, candidly.  “I don’t make those decisions. They do. And I’m sure they have to make them pretty quickly with the draft coming up.”

‘They need to go younger’

He later said “it is what it is. They need to go younger if they want to win. That’s how you win in this league; you’ve got to rebuild, and that’s what they’re in now.”

If indeed his Flyers career has ended and he is dealt (To Boston and his roots? To Columbus and his good pal, Johnny Gaudreau?) or bought out, Hayes said he would leave with lots of great memories, highlighted by Oskar Lindblom returning from cancer and playing in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs.

He said he will also cherish being there for Claude Giroux’s 1,000th game, and being teammates with his good friend, Keith Yandle.

Hayes, who turns 31 on May 8, believes a decision on his future has been made — “and I’m OK with it, it’s their decision ” — and that he’ll find out around the draft.

During this season, he was selected to his first All-Star Game, but he struggled mightily in the second half of the season, especially after the Flyers made it public they were trying to deal him near the trade deadline.

Playing most of the season at a new position (wing), the natural center scored 18 goals — and just one over his last 28 games. He finished with 54 points, equaling his career best.

“Ups and downs, for sure,” he said. “It was a crazy year.”

Hayes said he “absolutely loves” the organization, and believes former coach Alain Vigneault and ex-general manager Chuck Fletcher received too much criticism.

Team leader

If Hayes isn’t back,  the Flyers will be losing a leader in the locker room, right winger Travis Konecny said.

“I remember the first day I ever talked to Hayesy was the day I signed (an extension) and he was one of the first guys that actually texted me,” Konecny said. “Ever since then, Hayesy and I have become very close. We were on the same card table on the plane, and we sit together or every single flight. We got to know each other really well.”

Hayes, a Boston-area native, likes to keep things loose.

“The effect he has in the locker room around the guys, honestly he doesn’t even really know it,” Konecny said. “It’s so deep, and every single guys loves Hayesy and what he brings to the table. … We’ve all interacted with his family over the years at their house, and he’s really bought into being a great teammate.”

Left winger Joel Farabee said he “couldn’t say enough good things” about Hayes and that he “took me under his wing when I got here. I really feel loyal to him forever.”

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