It’s almost time for fans’ favourite weekend of the season, the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend, and this year Kevin Hayes will be the Philadelphia Flyers‘ representative for the Metropolitan team. But the weekend holds much more than just a fun experience for him.
NHL All-Star Weekend
All-Star Weekend is a chance to bring all teams together and their respected fan bases for a weekend of fun and an opportunity to showcase their skills. It begins on Friday, Feb. 3, in Sunrise, Florida, with the NHL All-Star Skills Competition presented by DraftKings SportsBook. Players will take part in several events, such as GEICO NHL Hardest Shot, Great Clips NHL Breakaway Challenge, Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting, The Upper Deck NHL Fastest Skater; and three new events, The Enterprise NHL Slap Shot at Fort Lauderdale, The Chipotle NHL Pitch n’ Puck, and the Discover NHL Tendy Tandem.
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Following an evening of fun and laughter is the NHL All-Star Game which will be held on Saturday, Feb. 4, at the home of the Florida Panthers, FLA Live Arena. The format is a three-game tournament consisting of a 3-on-3 style of play. The players are chosen by the NHL hockey operations department, picking a total of 32 All-Stars, one from each team, and allowing the fans the opportunity to choose the remaining 12 players.
The weekend truly brings hockey together as a community and gives players a chance to take a break from the high-stress environment of their teams and the grind of the regular season.
Kevin Hayes as an NHL All-Star
When the 30-year-old 6-foot-5 forward received the news that he was, in fact, one of the players given the opportunity to play in the All-Star Game, he was pretty excited, “it’s really exciting for myself and my family,” Hayes told media, “ever since my brothers been out of the league his only wish is for me to make the All-Star Game, literally every year he told me ‘this is gonna be the year’.” This will be his first-ever NHL All-Star appearance, and he’ll have his older brother in the back of his mind as he fulfills an accomplishment his late brother wanted for him.
If you aren’t familiar with the Hayes family, Jimmy Hayes was Kevin’s older brother who played several seasons in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins, and New Jersey Devils. Unfortunately, the 31-year-old forward passed away on Aug. 23, 2021. To this day, Kevin still celebrates goals by pointing upwards to the sky, dedicating and honouring his best friend, just as he did back in Nov. 2021 after his first goal of the season.
The following season was a tough one for the younger Hayes; not only was he dealing with the passing of a family member, but he was also in and out of surgeries the entire 2021-22 season due to abdominal injuries. As of the beginning of the 2022-23 season, Hayes was back and ready to play. The centerman currently has 15 goals, six of which are on the powerplay, and leads the Flyers in assists with 30 in 50 games played, and most recently celebrated his 600-game milestone on Jan. 22.
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Hayes has been in the spotlight for both positives and negatives this season, and many were left wondering why the spot didn’t go to Travis Konecny, who has 49 points (24 goals and 25 assists) in 45 games and is the team’s leading scorer. The 2020 All-Star fully supports his teammate and isn’t discouraged by the decision. “It’s pretty special for him,” Konecny boasted to media after a 6-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 5, “Kevin’s been great in this league for a long time and has done a lot of good things. He deserves to be there.”
Hayes is helpful in all situations; he’s proven himself in even-strength play, powerplay, and penalty kill. His ability to move the puck and consistently provide scoring opportunities for his teammates is just another part of the reason he deserves a spot on the All-Star team and has been described as “an excellent complement to skilled linemates,” which is another good reason for the centreman to be on the roster.
Hayes deserves to be on the All-Star team, and his story is beyond what anyone could have expected. It’s not about the points or style of play; at the end of the day, it’s about family and accomplishing something his brother knew was in his future, and his nephew, Jimmy’s son Beau, will get to experience the entire weekend. The Flyers forward will likely play on the third line for Team Metropolitan alongside Brock Nelson of the New York Islanders and Andrei Svechnikov of the Carolina Hurricanes, as predicted by Tom Gulitti.
With no Flyers hockey until Monday, Feb. 6, when the Flyers face the New York Islanders, the All-Star Game will be something to look forward to, not just for Flyers fans but the team, too, as they get a much-deserved break.