VOORHEES, N.J. – Kevin Hayes and Tony DeAngelo still want to be Flyers.
The question is, do the Flyers still want them?
Both star players were benched at various times of the season and perceived to be in head coach John Tortorella’s doghouse.
At Friday’s getaway interviews at the Flyers Training Center, Hayes said he would like to stay in Philadelphia but isn’t sure what the team’s brass is thinking.
Perhaps a bit more optimistic, DeAngelo believes he will play in a Flyers uniform next season even though Tortorella benched him for the final five games of the just completed slate.
Neither Tortorella nor interim GM Daniel Briere were available for comment. They will address the media on Monday.
Hayes, who has a no-trade for 12 teams written into his contract, was the subject of many trade rumors right around the NHL deadline of March 3 but nothing came of them.
The offseason could be a different story.
There’s a youth movement/rebuild going on and Hayes, at 31, isn’t sure the team sees him being a part of it.
“Younger guys are playing,” Hayes said. “I don’t know if they want a guy that’s making the money that I’m making (seven years, $50 million) playing 9-10 minutes a night. I don’t make those decisions – they do, and I’m sure they have to make them pretty quickly. Draft is coming up (late June).”
The idea of possibly being moved is nothing new to Hayes.
I’m turning 31,” he said. “I picked up the message (a benching) that was sent months ago. I’m okay with it. It’s their decision. I don’t want to say I’m suited for a contender, because I think I’m suited for anyone to be honest. We’ll see how that unfolds. Their decisions have probably already been made. We don’t know them yet. I’m sure I’ll find out around the draft.
As for DeAngelo, the South Jersey native never seemed to enjoy a warm and cozy relationship with Tortorella from the season’s outset.
In the past two weeks, things apparently deteriorated to the point where there wasn’t much discussion as to his playing status.
Asked if he could reveal any reason why he thought he was benched, DeAngelo shook his head.
“No, it’s not my decision anyway,” he said, “so I can’t really get into it because I don’t know.
“I’m sure there’s reasons for it, but nothing that either one of us were obviously willing to discuss. I’ll just leave it at that.”
DeAngelo did confirm the two men had met at some point.
“Yeah, we talked,” DeAngelo said, “but not a whole lot.”
Is this relationship damaged beyond repair?
“No,” DeAngelo said. “The way I put it – I love being a Flyer. My whole life I’ve wanted to be a Flyer. Now that I am, I don’t take it for granted at all. It’s something that means a lot to me, so we’re not going to let any relationship stuff get in the way.
“He (Tortorella) is the coach of the team, so you got to respect that, and I respect what he does. Do I agree with it, what happened in the last five games? Absolutely not.”
DeAngelo realizes Tortorella has final say on any team matter. So he has to respect that authority, even if he believes some of the decisions he makes aren’t right.
“I think it’s ridiculous that I didn’t play the last five,” DeAngelo said. “That’s one thing, but he’s also the coach of the team. It’s not my job to decide that. All I can worry about is being a good teammate, which I think I did. Tried to stay out of the way. I don’t want to be a distraction to anybody, these guys had stuff to play for. There’s milestones these guys are trying to get to, guys are trying to play for contracts next year – I don’t know how many guys are due up, but all that kind of stuff.”
DeAngelo, acquired in a trade with Carolina last summer, has one more year left on his contract. Will he be a Flyer next season?
“I plan on being back,” the player said. “I want to come back. I have no clue what’s going to happen. It’s not my decision, but I’ll be training and getting ready to play another season here.”
It’s no secret DeAngelo dreamed of playing for the Flyers since he was a kid. Now that he’s playing for them, he wants to do his best. But the numbers for his first year weren’t spectacular, especially that glaring, team-worst minus-27.
He knows he can’t repeat that performance next year.
“I got to play better,” he said. “I’m pretty accountable on myself. I feel like – did I have a good year offensively? Probably. I was probably pretty, in my opinion, I was pretty good with the puck. Did I have the points that I probably think I should have had? No. Lower year than I would have expected, even in the 70 games.
“There was other stuff that I didn’t do as well. I didn’t think I was great defensively all the time. There was some games where I was real good. Early in the year, I thought I was really good defensively, and then kind of dipped. As the points weren’t coming, it was all over the place. Too inconsistent. I thought it was very frustrating for myself to be that inconsistent this year.”
But can he make it work with Tortorella?
“Having said all that, that would make me want to come back even more,” DeAngelo said. “I don’t care who the coach is. I want to come back, and this is where I want to be. I’ve wanted to be a Flyer forever. As far as what’s going to happen, I can’t tell you what’s going to happen. Even if I’m back next year, if I’m back after that year, I can’t tell you what’s going to happen. As long as I’m wanted here, I’ll be here.”