Kevin Hayes was awarded the Gene Hart Memorial Award today. This award is voted on by the members of the Philadelphia Flyers Fan Club, and is awarded to the player who, in their eyes, has the most “heart”. Considering the fuss that Flyers fans raised when he was signed, this award had to be a shock for Hayes. If I had put money on this award, I would have lost, as my guess for this one was Oskar Lindblom.
Hayes has embraced Philadelphia, and the fans were won over pretty quickly, despite the 7 year, $50 million contract that was bemoaned as too much money for too little return when he signed. Hayes put up 23 goals and 18 assists, taking fifth place in team scoring. He also played in all 69 games, but it wasn’t his numbers that won the fans over. The points helped, but his personality was what did it. Philadelphia fans just love a player that loves them back, and Hayes was not shy about embracing the Philadelphia area.
This being my first year, I felt right at home from Day 1. I love this team, organization, fan base and city. It’s hard not to love playing at the Wells Fargo Center every night in front of the best fans in the league. – Kevin Hayes
The rest of the Flyers awards will be handed out this week, with the exception of the Toyota Cup; that award went to Travis Konecny, everyone’s favorite trash talker. This one is a point total, determined by how many first, second and third “Star of the Game” points each player takes. Hayes was second, with Cahtah Haht, err, Carter Hart, taking third.
Tuesday’s award will be the Yanick Dupre Class Guy Memorial, given to the player who best demonstrates character, dignity and respect for the sport, on and off the ice. Since Hayes, who was my original choice for this award received the Hart, I will have to give this one to Oskar Lindblom. He was leading the team in scoring when he was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, and yet managed a smile any time he was near the team. The team was clearly inspired by him, and I think this one is a shoe in.
Wednesday is the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy, awarded to the Flyer who has improved the most as voted by his teammates. This award is a toss up for me, between Travis Sanheim and Scott Laughton. Truth be told, there is so much young talent on this team that stepped up, this award really is tough to call, but I would give a slight edge to Laughton if only because this is a team voted award.
The Barry Ashbee Trophy, awarded to the team’s best defenseman, is not an award that suffers from the too close to call syndrome. It is almost a bet-the-farm certainty that Thursday will see this award given to Matt Niskanen. He missed only one game, was a +29 and was the steady hand that helped fellow d-man Ivan Provorov return to the top form of his rookie season. Niskanen erased errors, steadied the penalty kill, and was cool, calm and collected while doing it.
Friday is the big time, the Bobby Clarke Trophy for team MVP. Looking up and down the bench, there is a case for almost every player that donned the Orange and Black this year. This campaign, shortened by Covid-19, was nothing short of a stunning turn around. Last year’s winner, Sean Couturier, played all 69 games, put up 59 points and was a +21. Captain Claude Giroux again led by example, with a team high 6 game winning goals. Either player could win, and either player would be deserving; however; I think Coots will be a two time MVP, as well as a Selke finalist. He is indeed, the future of this team, a future that is now.
Photo Credit TSN.ca