The writing was on the wall almost immediately. As the Philadelphia Flyers began practicing on Monday morning, forward Kevin Hayes left the ice and went off into the locker room.
Shortly after, general manager Chuck Fletcher announced that the winger was placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.
Hayes becomes the third player that is currently sidelined because of COVID, joining Max Willman and Morgan Frost. Two staff members are also out due to the virus, and Fletcher admitted that “it’s creeping in a little bit to our group.”
A difficult season continues for Hayes, who has had to deal with personal loss along with injuries.
While rehabbing from abdomen surgery, Hayes lost his older brother and former NHL forward, Jimmy, in October.
He returned to the ice to make his 2021-22 season debut on Nov. 13, immediately contributing a goal and assist over his first two games. But an awkward fall on Nov. 16 led to a re-aggravation of the injury and another two-and-a-half-week hiatus.
Since his return on Dec. 1 against his former team, the New York Rangers, Hayes has recorded just one goal and three assists over nine games.
Hayes will either have to quarantine for 10 days or produce two negative tests over two days to return to the team.
The Flyers’ COVID numbers are trending in the wrong direction, which appears to be the theme across the league. Currently, over one-quarter of the league has seen its schedule shut down through the Christmas break due to the virus while Canadian teams have postponed all travel across the border to the United States.
As of Monday afternoon, no Flyers games games have been postponed, including Tuesday night’s clash against the Washington Capitals. The Flyers then head to Pittsburgh to play the Penguins on Thursday before their Christmas break.