Jimmy Hayes, the former NHL player from Boston, died unexpectedly Monday morning, Aug. 23, at the age of 31. A Boston native, Jimmy won an NCAA hockey championship playing for Boston College, and then spent seven seasons in the NHL before retiring in 2019. Now friends and family are trying to understand what happened to the father of two adorable boys.
Officers and and first responders arrived at his home this morning in Milton, Mass., a suburb of Boston, where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death in unknown, but law enforcement told The Boston Globe that his death was not considered suspicious at this time.
Just this past weekend, Jimmy Hayes’ wife Kristen had posted on Instagram that they were celebrating their 2-year-old son Beau’s birthday with family and friends. The couple also have a 3-month-old boy named Mac. “Can’t wait to watch them grow up together,” Kristen wrote at the birthday party.
During his time in the NHL, Jimmy scored 54 goals and 109 points over the course of 334 games. The 6-foot-5-inch, 215-pound right-winger played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, hometown Boston Bruins, and later the New Jersey Devils.
Jimmy’s brother Kevin is also an NHL hockey player, still active as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. His cousins are former NHL players Tom Fitzgerald and Keith Tkachuk, and their sons Ryan Fitzgerald, Casey Fitzgerald, Matthew Tkachuk, and Brady Tkachuk, are all NHL players as well.
Jimmy helped Team USA win the silver medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Under-18-Years-Old Championship in Finland in 2007, and played his first Stanley Cup playoff series in the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals against Phoenix Coyotes.
In Dec 2015, he scored a hat trick, which is three goals in a single game, against Senators’ goaltender Craig Anderson to win the Bruins’ home game 7-3 with only 0.2 seconds of the game remaining.
After leaving professional hockey, Jimmy cohosted a podcast with fellow NHL players Shane O’Brien and Scottie Upshall, called “Missin Curfew,” where he was affectionately nicknamed “Broadway.” Their last show was on Aug 5. “We lost our brother today,” the podcast tweeted. “Goodbye Jimmy, we will love you forever.”
“The Boston Bruins are heartbroken by the passing of Dorchester native and former Bruin Jimmy Hayes,” the team wrote in a statement. “Our thoughts are with his wife Kristen, his sons Beau and Mac, and the entire Hayes family during this very difficult time.”
Boston College also offered their condolences, writing, “Boston College Hockey is heartbroken over the passing of Jimmy Hayes. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Hayes family.”
Jerry York, the men’s ice hockey coach at Boston College, said that of all the kids he’s coached over the years, Jimmy Hayes was “certainly in my top 5 as far as being enjoyable to coach, to hang in the locker room with.”
Jimmy had appeared well just the night before. His wife Kristen posted a photo of them at the arcade on her personal Instagram account, showing Jimmy in a Patriots hat and smiling.
Blake Coleman, a former teammate of Jimmy’s during their time together playing for the Devils, wrote on Twitter that, “he will be missed by so many, he always brought a smile to the rink.”
“We are thinking of the Hayes family and friends during this difficult time,” the New Jersey Devils said in a statement. “His infectious personality and 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.”
Jimmy is also survived by his three other siblings, Eileen, Genevieve, and Justin, as well as his mother, Shelaghn, and his father, Kevin Hayes, Sr.