Former Panther & Bruin Jimmy Hayes Leaves a Lasting Legacy

The hockey community received some sad news today, as Jimmy Hayes died unexpectedly in his home in Milton, Massachusetts. The cause of his death is unknown, and he leaves behind his brother and current Philadelphia Flyers forward, Kevin Hayes, his wife Kristen, and sons Beau and Mac.

Hayes played seven seasons in the NHL, spending time with the Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins, and New Jersey Devils. He retired as a member of the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins in 2019, then started the Missin’ Curfew Podcast with ex-Panthers teammates Scottie Upshall and Shane O’Brien.

Hayes’ Career

The Toronto Maple Leafs selected Hayes with the 60th overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft after he scored four goals and 15 points in 21 games with the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League. He added four goals and nine points in eight playoff games during that season.

In Loving Memory of Jimmy Hayes, 1989-2021
Jimmy Hayes, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He spent his next three seasons with Boston College, winning an NCAA National Championship with the team in 2010. During that 2009-10 season, he scored 13 goals and 35 points in 42 games, finishing sixth in goals on a team that had future NHLers Chris Kreider, Cam Atkinson, and Brian Dumoulin on it. He was traded to the Blackhawks that offseason in exchange for a 2010 second-round pick.

During his last season with Boston College in 2010-11, Hayes scored 21 goals and 33 points in 39 games. He reported to Chicago the following season, splitting the 2011-12 season between the NHL roster and the AHL’s Rockford Ice Hogs. He played 31 NHL games that year, scoring five goals and nine points while adding seven goals and 23 points in the AHL.

In 2012-13, he played 10 games for the Chicago Blackhawks team that lifted the Stanley Cup that year. He had one goal and four points in the NHL, spending the majority of the season with the Ice Hogs. In 67 AHL games, he put up 25 goals and 45 points.

The Panthers traded for Hayes in the middle of the 2013-14 season, sending Kris Versteeg and Phillippe Lefebvre to Chicago in exchange for him. After arriving in Florida, he had 11 goals and 18 points in 53 games that season. He spent one more season in Florida, scoring 19 goals and 35 points. He was sent to the Bruins that offseason in exchange for Reilly Smith and Marc Savard.

Hayes had one more solid goal-scoring season left in him in 2015-16 when he scored 13 goals and 29 points in 75 games. He played 58 games with the Bruins the following season, scoring just two goals and five points before being bought out of his contract. He signed with the New Jersey Devils the following season but only played in 33 games, scoring three goals and nine assists.

He spent the 2018-19 season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL, scoring 15 goals and 30 points. He retired from hockey that offseason.

His Legacy on the Game

The Hayes family has plenty of roots in the hockey community, being cousins with both Tom Fitzgerald and Keith Tkachuk. Current NHLers Brady and Matthew Tkachuk are also a part of the Hayes bloodline, with the family having a major influence in the Boston area.

As a Massachusetts native, a champion with Boston College, and two seasons with the Boston Bruins under his belt, Jimmy Hayes’ name has become synonymous with the hockey scene in the city.

Long-time NHLer Peter Holland took to Twitter following the death of Hayes, saying, “The impact the Hayes family has around the hockey community, especially in Boston, cannot be overstated.”

New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban and ex-teammate of Hayes also tweeted out a very heartfelt tribute about his long-time friend. “I was fortunate enough to play with Jimmy at 6 years old and get to know him, his brother [Kevin Hayes], his dad, and many others in the Boston and Dorchester area throughout my career. I’m hurting for all of you today.”

Kevin Shattenkirk, who also played in the Boston hockey circuit with Boston University, also had some kind words to say for Hayes over Twitter. “Someone we will miss for a lifetime. I’m so grateful for all the memories I have with Jimmy, but I will always wish there were more around the corner.”

With a brother and two cousins still in the NHL and the memories shared on the Missin’ Curfew podcast, Hayes will be remembered by the hockey community for a long time, and his memory will be a lasting one.