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Hayes nearing possible return, defies expectations

The center might be back in the lineup sooner than you think.

San Jose Sharks v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

As wild and out there it might seem, the Philadelphia Flyers are getting healthier.

Joel Farabee is making his return to the lineup on Saturday against the Washington Capitals, goaltender Carter Hart will be going back in between the pipes after recovering from a sty in his eye (ew, gross); Derick Brassard is trying to recover from a nagging hip injury and is possibly coming back soon enough, and the Flyers might finally be getting Kevin Hayes back in the fold as soon as next week.

The 29-year-old center is slowly recovering from abdominal issues that he had to undergo surgery for in the off-season — delaying the start of his season — and just recently had hip surgery in January, the third procedure done on his midsection since the end of last season. A whirlwind of doctor visits and getting cut open might finally be calming down, as Flyers head coach told media Thursday that Hayes is making his way.

“He’s getting close,” Yeo said. “I think that there’s a good chance we could see Kevin in the lineup. I know he had a real positive MRI, a real positive doctor’s appointment that gave him some good news. ...I can tell that he’s got more pace and more jump to the way he looks right now compared to when he was in the lineup.”

Just two weeks ago, GM Chuck Fletcher gave it a 50-50 chance that Hayes would be shut down for the season. Look at him now! Hayes did a full practice with the team on Thursday, but that doesn’t mean any return on Saturday is likely, but should we circle next Thursday against the Minnesota Wild or Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks, as possible games where we can get some semblance of what this Flyers roster was supposed to be? Possibly!

It was fairly evident that the veteran forward really tried to get back on the ice sooner than he should have, but this time, it seems different.

“I know that [Hayes] is approaching this as carefully as he possibly can, getting all the advice from multiple, multiple people, resources,” Yeo said. “One hundred percent [Hayes] is committed to the Flyers’ organization and his long-term ability to help this organization, so he’s not going to jeopardize that just by coming back and playing a few games this year. Everything that he is doing is based on the long-term idea of what he can bring for this group.

“It hurts for him not being in the lineup, he wants to play, but having the conversations that I’ve had, he doesn’t want to jeopardize next year. But at the same time, if people are telling him that maybe he doesn’t need surgery, maybe coming back and playing is going to help him more next year, then he might follow that advice as well. He’s just got to continue to listen to the experts right now and that’s what he’s doing.”

With four more seasons after this current one still on his contract, I truly hope that he is committed to this team.

Snark aside, it will be so good to see Hayes back on the ice before the year ends. A little boost of offense and just having someone to not make this team look like a copycat of the 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres for stretches of periods, will be good to see even if it messes up any potential tank for Shane Wright or whatever teenage boy’s name everyone wants to see on an orange and black nameplate.

Miraculously, with just 20 games played, Hayes is still within the top-15 scorers on the Flyers currently; so imagine that with more games and a larger role if Claude Giroux is gone after March 21.

At least we can have some pleasantries.

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