In an emotional post on Instagram, Flyers center Kevin Hayes paid tribute to his older brother, Jimmy, 31, a former NHL player who was found dead in his Massachusetts home Monday.
“Yesterday, I lost my best friend, my brother,” Hayes, 29, wrote Tuesday. “My whole life it has always been Jimmy and Kevin or the Hayes brothers. I have followed you around since I can remember and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Whether it was youth hockey, Nobles, Boston College or the NHL, you paved the way for me. You taught me everything I needed to know in order to succeed.”
The brothers were teammates at Boston College for one season, 2010-11.
“You lit up every single room you walked into with your smile and positive attitude,” Hayes wrote. “Everyone wanted to be around Jim, the big, goofy, horrible dancer, funny, genuine and kindest person around. I will never forget the times we shared or the memories we made and know that I will try my hardest to have your legacy live on.
“Our world lost someone special and I don’t know if I will ever be the same but till we meet again, I LOVE YOU JIM!”
Jimmy Hayes’ wife, Kristen, also posted a heartfelt message on Instagram, where she shared a photo of the couple holding their two sons: Beau, 2, and Mac, 3 months.
“My angel, I love you so much,” she wrote. “I miss you. I don’t know how I’m going to do life without you. You should be here. This isn’t fair.”
The Massachusetts medical examiner will conduct an autopsy on Hayes, a big right winger who played with Chicago, Florida, Boston, and New Jersey.
The death was not ruled suspicious, authorities told the Boston Globe.
Hayes’ last NHL season was 2017-18, when the 6-foot-5, 215-pounder played for New Jersey. The Devils said in a tweet that Hayes’ “infectious personality and easygoing nature were contagious to those who spent time with him. He had a tremendous ability to make everyone feel welcome.”
Selected by Toronto in the second round of the 2008 draft, Hayes spent seven seasons in the NHL and finished with 54 goals and 109 points in 334 games. He and Kevin won NCAA championships in different seasons at Boston College. Jimmy was on the 2010 title team, and Kevin won in 2012.