Flyers center Kevin Hayes to miss 6-8 weeks after having abdominal surgery Tuesday
The Flyers are expected to be without Hayes, defenseman Samuel Morin, and winger Wade Allison when their season begins Oct. 15 vs. Vancouver.
When the Flyers released their injury report ahead of training camp, there was a lot of speculation about Samuel Morin and Wade Allison’s injuries, but an even bigger hit was announced on Tuesday afternoon: Center Kevin Hayes will miss six to eight weeks after undergoing abdominal surgery.
Hayes, who had 12 goals and 31 points in 55 games last season, felt pain in his groin area Monday while he was skating with the team and underwent surgery Tuesday morning, coach Alain Vigneault said. The six-to-eight-week recovery period will mean the 29-year-old will miss all of training camp as well as the start of the season.
Vigneault had not talked to Hayes since he came out of surgery, but he said Hayes was staying positive when they texted Monday.
“He said in one of the texts he sent me, ‘AV, we got this early. I would love to still be around the team during training camp to be able to go through the meetings, and we’ve got a lot of new faces, and I’d like to help out,’ “ Vigneault said. “So I’m all for that. Told him I wouldn’t expect anything less from him. I want him around the team.”
Hayes’ absence means Vigneault and his staff have to consider how to shuffle the lines. The players hit the ice for training camp beginning Thursday, and Vigneault plans to keep the lines pretty similar to what he had planned initially. As camp progresses, though, he said he will start trying out different combinations to see who has the right chemistry and which younger players can step up.
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The staff has already discussed what this will mean for Morgan Frost, who came back from the offseason stronger and impressed in rookie camp. With Hayes out, Frost figures to have an even greater opportunity to crack the opening-night lineup.
“Unfortunately the young players, in the last year-and-a-half, have not played a lot of hockey,” Vigneault said. “And, in Morgan’s case, was injured last year and missed the whole year. So he was able to play in rookie camp, and obviously, I liked what I saw.
“He’s one of the young players that is going to get an opportunity here because we have a normal training camp, because we have six exhibition games, he’ll get an opportunity to show what he can do on the ice.”
Allison will not have the same chance to compete. He, too, had a strong rookie camp before he was slammed into the boards during the rookie exhibition game against the New York Rangers. Allison suffered a right ankle sprain and was helped off the ice. Vigneault doesn’t expect him back for training camp or the start of the season.
“He’s going to be out for a while,” Vigneault said. “I don’t have an exact time frame, but anytime they call something ‘indeterminate’ amount of time, that means it’s going to be a long time.”
The defense will also be down a player as Morin, who was expected to be the team’s seventh defenseman sits out six to eight weeks after he had surgery to remove loose bodies from his right knee on Sept. 10.
Injuries happen, Vigneault said, which is why it’s important to have organizational depth. This season, depth will be even more important as players go off to play in the 2022 Winter Olympics in February, risking further injury.
When the 2021 season concluded for the Flyers, Vigneault sat down with general manager Chuck Fletcher and his staff to discuss what needed to be done to prevent the team from having another disappointing season. After waiting some time to “get the emotion out of the equation,” they created a “wish list” together.
“And at the end of the day, Chuck went out and got the job done,” Vigneault said. “So him and his staff have come through for us. Now, it’s up to me and my staff and my players, we have something to prove.”
Vigneault has been in the area for weeks now, and he’s also been in contact with his players. He’s noticed there’s a new type of energy and a sense of optimism. Everyone, from the veterans to the new additions to the roster, has something to prove this year.
Another big reason for the optimism in the program is the knowledge that the Flyers have training camp and exhibition games this year. Vigneault said he’s determined not to “address the past very often,” but he’s glad that it feels almost like it’s “back to normal” this year.
The Flyers hit the ice Thursday and will practice at Voorhees every day through Monday. They will play their first exhibition game against the New York Islanders at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center. ... The Flyers have partnered with SeatGeek to handle the ticket exchange for the team and the arena. Single-game tickets will go on sale Sept. 23. ... Forward Zayde Wisdom is out indefinitely after having shoulder surgery, while defenseman Cooper Zech is out six to eight weeks with an upper-body injury. ... The Flyers released right wing Ethan Burroughs and center Nolan Ritchie from their Amateur Try Outs (ATOs).