Former NHL player and New Jersey Devil Jimmy Hayes passed away today. He was 31.
Hayes, whose brother, Kevin, currently plays for the Flyers, played seven seasons in the NHL, having been drafted 60th overall in 2008 by the Maple Leafs. He was traded to the Blackhawks before playing a game with the Leafs in June of 2010.
The press release put out by the NHL states that Hayes had played for Boston College prior to turning pro. In 2010 – Hayes’ sophomore season – the Eagles won their second straight NCAA title and Hayes had 13 goals and 22 assists (35 points). He had an assist in the NCAA championship game against the University of Wisconsin, a 5-0 Boston College win.
The Hayes brothers were teammates in 2010-11, Jimmy’s junior, and final, year at BC.
Jimmy Hayes would go on to a NHL career where he would score 109 points – 54 goals and 55 assists – for the Blackhawks, Panthers, Bruins and Devils. He played in two career playoff games in the NHL, both with Chicago in 2011-12, his rookie year. He last played for the Devils at the NHL level in 2017-18. Over 33 games with New Jersey, he had three goals and six assists for nine points.
In a statement quoted in the NHL’s writeup on Hayes, Boston captain Patrice Bergeron said: “I’m devastated to learn of the passing of my friend Jimmy Hayes. It was a pleasure getting to know Jimmy, and he was such a joy to be aeound both on and off the ice. I’ll always remember his big smile – he was so positive and full of life. I’m going to really miss that. We’ve lost a great person. My family and I send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Kristen, their two young boys, his brother Kevin, and the rest of the family during this difficult time.”
The Devils put out a statement saying: “We are thinking of the Hayes family and friends during this difficult time. His infectious personality a d easygoing nature were contagious to all who spent time with him. He had a tremendous ability to make everyone feel welcome. You will be missed, Jimmy.”
The NHL said that “[t]he NHL family mourns the passing of Jimy Hayes, who appeared in over 300 games with the Blackhawks, Panthers, Devils and his hometown Bruins. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Hayes last played professionally in the American Hockey League with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh affiliate) in 2018-19.
In some other, less sobering news to pass along, the NHL today announced the full preseason slate of games. The Devils’ exhibition on Saturday, October 2 versus the New York Islanders will be played at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The Isles will be playing their preseason games there while they await their new home, the UBS Arena to open.
UBS Arena is slated to open November 20, 2021 when the Islanders play host to the Calgary Flames.