Playing for Jimmy: Grieving Hayes suits up for Flyers season

PHILADELPHIA — The tattoo runs alongside Kevin Hayes’ left forearm, an everlasting reminder of what the Philadelphia Flyers middle is lacking, a solemn quote overlaid by means of a thick, script J for his past due brother that serves as an indelible tribute to a bond he believes isn’t damaged, simply modified.

The inscription Hayes by no means sought after to get reads: “Demise leaves a heartache nobody can heal, love leaves a reminiscence nobody can thieve.”

At simply 31, former NHL participant Jimmy Hayes, married for 3 years and a father of 2 younger boys, was once discovered useless this summer season inside of his circle of relatives house. Kevin says his brother was once wholesome and glad. He stated he had no explanation why to imagine the rest suspicious about his brother’s reason for demise, which has no longer been made up our minds.

Just about two months later, the speculation of beginning a season with out his brother weighs on Kevin.

“We have been best possible pals our complete existence,” Kevin stated.

Thru bowling and baseball as children to homecoming clashes at TD Lawn, the Hayes brothers have been as tight as a double knot; Kevin in line with large brother Jimmy, a few children from Boston’s biggest community who attended the similar boarding faculty, identical faculty and, in the end, performed head-to-head within the NHL.

They have been the athletic anchors of a five-sibling Irish circle of relatives from Dorchester, and everybody knew famous person — they shared a bloodline with cousins who made the NHL — was once destined for the men.

“You couldn’t move anyplace with out somebody having a Hayes jersey on or one thing at the wall with a Hayes jersey,” Kevin stated. “My dad’s massive locally. My mother ran a daycare that everybody’s children move to. It’s only a small-knit group, and me and my brother have been actually just like the face of Dorchester.”

The Hayes boys’ largest fanatics weren’t the hockey zealots out in their working-class community that cheered them on as they changed into stars at Boston Faculty, somewhat, they have been every different.

After they reached the NHL, Kevin lingered all through warmups on the purple line and waited for Jimmy to waft over and destroy the ice with a silly funny story. The brothers lived in combination, skilled in combination, golfed in combination, might be the lifetime of the birthday celebration in combination and have been in every different’s corners, at the same time as Kevin advanced right into a top-line middle whilst Jimmy’s occupation ended within the minors after portions of 7 NHL seasons.

“I feel he approved we have been other gamers, that I used to be just a little bit extra professional than he was once,” stated Kevin, within the 3rd season of a $50 million, seven-year maintain the Philadelphia Flyers. “However I swear there was once not more larger supporter of me than my brother. He advised everybody how excellent I used to be.”

Jimmy needled Kevin, insisting a nasty recreation was once by no means his fault and jokingly blaming a winger or trainer Alain Vigneault for a loss. The great video games, properly, the ones have been all Kevin.

“He idea I used to be the most efficient participant on the planet,” Kevin stated. “I might be speaking about (Connor) McDavid and (Sidney) Crosby. He’s like, ‘No, I’m telling you guy, you’re simply as excellent as the ones guys.’ I’m like, ‘You’re nuts.‘”

In August, beaten by means of grief that moves as without equal value paid for romance, Kevin stood in the back of to a lectern inside of a jammed Catholic parish church, steeled his nerves and advised mourners concerning the guy he thought to be his hero.

Now, the 29-year-old Hayes, who will leave out Friday’s season opener on account of an damage, begins the following bankruptcy of his existence with out the liked ringleader of the Hayes team.

“Even when you are mad at him for doing one thing silly, he’s going to say one thing so dumb that you simply assume he most definitely does it on objective, the place you might be similar to how may you also be mad at him,” Hayes stated, a grin forming on the reminiscence.

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The youngsters all grown up, and after each oldsters survived bouts with most cancers, the great occasions stored rolling in Massachusetts.

Take, as an example, a scene from the “Highway to the Wintry weather Vintage” TV sequence that opens with Jimmy in a black button-down blouse virtually comically introducing an never-ending string of teammates, nieces, nephews, uncles, sisters, aunts, and in any case, “My brother, Kevin.”

Jimmy pats his brother, dressed in just a long-sleeve T-shirt and black hat, at the shoulder and quips, “Thank you for dressing up.” The great-natured aggressive spirit temporarily kicked in: Kevin chirps he’ll beat his brother in bowling, basketball and residential run derby.

“Yeah, proper, bro! I’ll provide you with house run derby, however that’s about it,” Jimmy stated. “However bowling, bro, I’ll hit you from the left aspect with a NICE hook.”

Jimmy and retired gamers Shane O’Brien and Scottie Upshall hosted the “Missin Curfew” podcast that talked hockey, trash and the NHL’s freshest gossip.

Jimmy, who performed 334 video games for 4 groups together with the Boston Bruins, badgered his little brother close to the industry cut-off date for “something that’s true” throughout the locker room. Hayes joked he may by no means let any chatter slip for the reason that Flyers would clearly know he was once feeding data.

Jimmy liked taking pictures the breeze at the podcast, telling tales just like the time his dad profanely ripped him for a objective party shimmy at Boston Faculty, and the way shut the storytelling stored him to the sport in retirement. Kevin was once an speedy fan favourite in Philly and gained the group award for participant who confirmed essentially the most center, had a lager brewed in his honor and became the Flyers into contenders in 2020.

“As you increase as a group and do the group bonding stuff, Kevin is a big a part of that for us,” Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk stated. “He’s the lifetime of the locker room in that sense. Folks have a tendency to gravitate towards him and love being round him.”

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The funeral at St. Ann’s Church in Dorchester overflowed with mourners. Youngsters wearing Dorchester Formative years Hockey jerseys coated the streets. A bagpiper performed at the steps. The hockey group in any respect ranges confirmed up in droves. Former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh paid his respects.

Jimmy’s widow, Kristen, spoke on the provider. Kevin choked again tears as he spoke a couple of time his brother met with a cancer-stricken kid named Michael McHugh Jr. and taken him into the Bruins’ locker room.

“Jimmy stayed with Michael, taking footage, giving him sticks, and giving him a number of Bruins swag,” Kevin stated. “Sadly, Michael kicked the bucket only a month later. His dad advised us it was once the best night time of his son’s quick existence. Michael liked Jimmy and he felt for the primary time that he didn’t have most cancers that night time. His dad was once awestruck by means of Jimmy’s kindness and was once so thankful that Jimmy gave Michael probably the most happiest days of his existence.”

Kevin, now the massive brother, stayed house so long as he may along with his and his brother’s households.

“It was once difficult being in Boston as a result of we all know us,” he stated. “I couldn’t move get espresso or opt for a stroll with out somebody awkwardly gazing me, in need of to make an apology or give me a hug. It simply roughly were given draining. As an alternative of simply sitting on my mum or dad’s trainer or Kristen’s space the entire time, it was once great to in reality get again and stay up for the season.”

Kevin Hayes is again in Philadelphia and out any other few weeks following belly surgical operation. He skates on the rink however misses the FaceTime chats with Jimmy at the 20-minute experience house. He doesn’t test his telephone as a lot this present day and he’s deeply apologetic over the masses and masses of well-meaning texts that experience long past unanswered. However he does scroll Kristen’s Instagram account. Her web page is an affectionate, heartbreaking remembrance of footage and movies of Jimmy Hayes mugging for the digicam in a “dad” hat and walks at the seaside with their oldest son with the caption, “We would like you again dadda.”

Kevin laughs when he recollects how his brother and Kristen met at a seafood eating place at the Boston Waterfront and admires how robust she has remained for sons Beau and Mac during the tragedy. His grief nonetheless so uncooked, Kevin says the men will at all times know the way a lot Jimmy liked them, how a lot he liked his circle of relatives.

“I misplaced my best possible pal and my brother. She misplaced her husband and her father to her children,” Kevin stated. “It’s difficult. I will be able to settle for what took place, that my brother’s long past and he died. I’m 29 years previous and I perceive what demise is. The article that I will be able to’t get my head round, the entire, to not get non secular, however God. Being mad at God.

“I don’t know the way the ones two children don’t have a dad anymore. I will be able to’t settle for that. I don’t assume I ever will.”

He pauses, and provides, “However I additionally take a look at God sending other messages.”

A season after lacking the playoffs, the Flyers added Dorchester local, Hayes circle of relatives pal and NHL iron guy Keith Yandle in conjunction with Jimmy’s Boston Faculty roommate, Cam Atkinson. Two guys who knew the Hayes brothers from again within the day now percentage a line; Yandle and Hayes are roommates.

The Flyers middle known as it an indication that each gamers discovered their technique to Philly within the wake of tragedy.

“We each don’t love to be on my own, so we’re ready to hang around each day,” Yandle stated. “It’ll be excellent, too, particularly all through the season so that you could sit down down and watch video games. I feel it’ll be a large number of amusing. We watch a large number of TV, a large number of sofa time and a large number of laughs.”

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Jimmy and Kristen threw a 2-year-old birthday bash for Beau on Aug. 22 and invited everybody they may to have fun. Jimmy’s previous faculty teammates confirmed up. Youngsters in diapers made a multitude. There was once not anything out of the abnormal because the Hayes brothers deliberate a golfing day trip — “he gave me his large, two-hand shake,” Kevin stated — and stated good-bye.

The following morning, Kevin left his house and made the quick power for a scheduled exercise when his mom known as.

“I awoke within the morning to my mother screaming at the telephone,” Kevin stated. “My mother screamed, ‘He’s useless’ and I knew what she was once speaking about.”

Kevin sped again to his brother’s house and noticed the worst: “I noticed him being wheeled out, and …,” his voice tailing off.

Kevin stated Jimmy was once glad in retirement; he liked his position as circle of relatives guy, golfer, podcaster and his little brother’s No. 1 fan.

Kevin wears a bracelet along with his brother’s initials. That tattoo additionally has his brother’s No. 11 and his start and demise dates. Kevin vowed to stay his brother’s legacy alive via his nephews, and those that liked him best possible.

“I don’t assume somebody will fill my brother’s position as a dad or a mum or dad,” Kevin stated. “We’ll all take a look at our toughest. Beau and Mac are in reality fortunate that, although it’s a sucky scenario, they’re in reality fortunate for all of the beef up machine they do have.”

Enjoying in his honor this season isn’t sufficient, Kevin has devoted his existence to his brother, dwelling with the unyielding religion that the tight, brotherly bond in existence is unbreakable in demise.

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Extra AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports activities

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