If there was never a halt to the 2019-20 NHL season, the race for the Stanley Cup would have been in full force right about now. Conference Finals games would have been underway and the Flyers would have been pushing for their first taste of the Finals since 2009-10. Yes, I firmly believe what the Flyers were working toward this season was something special. 

It’s clear that there were many new elements being implemented during training camp back in September. While new faces behind the bench were added since last season, there was another crucial addition to the squad during the summer that should now be considered the missing piece.

Kevin Hayes. 

At the initial point of his signing, no one knew the impact Hayes was going to have on his new team. The relationship he created with head coach Alain Vigneault during their time with the Rangers certainly helped with the transition but it felt like the 28-year-old fit right in.  

“It’s old stuff obviously with a new team,” Hayes noted back during training camp. “With the same coach that I had my first four years, it’s relieving to be able to get as comfortable with the coach as soon as possible.” 

At first, the level of normalcy in the locker room almost felt too good to be true. Dating back to one of the first times Hayes spoke to media back in September — it was like he was meant to end up in Philadelphia. It doesn’t matter if that sounds a bit cliché, you could sense a different energy compared to what the room was like before he was a member of it.