One month and one day ago, everything changed for Kevin Hayes. The death of his older brother, Jimmy, at just 31 years old changed his life forever.
Kevin Hayes met with the media on Friday for the first time since Jimmy’s death. He spent the first nearly five minutes talking about his brother and the support he’s received over the past month.
“Everyone knows what happened. It has been a tough month,” Kevin Hayes said. “Life is fragile. It’s never fun to lose someone who is your best friend, someone you looked up to, and paired with you for your whole life.”
Kevin told an emotional story about Jimmy at his services last month. Jimmy played for four different teams in his NHL career and seemingly connected with his teammates rather quickly.
“You’ve seen in tributes with so much going on around the hockey world,” Kevin said. “My brother was a special person. He touched a lot of lives. He really enjoyed life and enjoyed helping others. It sucks that he’s gone. It happened way too fast. I’ll never forget him, obviously. I’ve been dreading this conversation with you guys, but there are some people I truly would like to thank,” he continued.
Kevin touched a lot of people with his story about Jimmy. It turns out, Jimmy touched a lot of people in his life, too.
“The hockey world is an impressive community. It’s been crazy with the amount of people that have reached out to myself and my family. The amount of people who showed up to the services was incredible. Some people that were very close with my brother, who I didn’t even know that are in the hockey world, reached out and sent flowers to my family,” Kevin said.
There was an outpouring of support for the Hayes family from the hockey community.
“There’s definitely some people I would like to thank: Chuck and AV have been tremendous through all this. They sent a team bus up to the services and it was incredible to see the support from them. Brian Burke, who’s with the Penguins right now, basically reached out every day to check how I’m doing. He, unfortunately, lost his son, so he’s been helping me through a lot of stuff. Just seeing people like P.K. Subban, Patrick Maroon, Ryan McDonagh, Shattenkirk. G was up there. Brauner, Joel, Keith Yandle, Chris Wagner. Just a lot of people. People I didn’t know reached out like Sidney Crosby and Landeskog. It’s been incredible, the support. It shows when we’re on the ice. It is truly a battle. We want to win every game, but the hockey community is a really special community. It goes much further than playing against each other on the ice. I was totally taken back with the support I received. There are some people, to this day, that check in.”
Kevin has had a tough month, but getting back to the rink may help him heal in a way.
“It’s going to be weird stepping on the ice for the first time knowing that my brother is not going to be there,” Kevin said. “He was my biggest supporter. If I had a bad game, it was AV’s fault, not mine. If I wasn’t playing a lot of minutes, he wanted to talk to AV and Chuck.
Jimmy is no longer with us, but he’ll be with Kevin in spirit throughout this season and the rest of his life.
“It’s something that I’ll miss. It’s something that I think will really push me this year. When I’m having bad days or bad games or not playing up to how the fans want me to, I’ll probably just think of my brother. He’ll, hopefully, push me through. It’s going to be weird for sure. I don’t think my life will be the same, honestly. It is really nice to be in Philly with these guys, being around the team, and being here with you guys.”
Rest in peace, Jimmy.
Photo via Philadelphia Flyers