It was midnight in Boston when Kevin Hayes
, Sr. got a call from his son Jimmy.
“He said ‘Dad, I’m in the lineup Friday night…’ It was like talking with a 10-year-old boy," recalls Kevin, Sr. "It was just really exciting. It’s a dream come true for him – and for me. I knew I couldn’t miss it; I had to come.”
Kevin, Sr. flew to Chicago with his wife, three daughters and Jimmy’s girlfriend to see his son’s National Hockey League debut, a 3-2 win for the Blackhawks over the Detroit Red Wings. Chicago recalled the right wing from the Rockford IceHogs to help fill a gap left by rookie center Marcus Kruger
"Watching my son playing out there, it’s 100 times better than I thought it’d be,” said Kevin, Sr.
Hayes, 22, paced Rockford rookies with 18 points (5G, 13A) in 28 games in his first full professional campaign. He recorded 2 shots and 2 penalty minutes in 7 minutes, 48 seconds of ice time in his NHL debut.
“There’s a bar back in Boston called the Eire Pub, and there’s 400 people watching,” said an emotional Kevin, Sr.
Jimmy’s brother Kevin was also among those catching the game on TV. The Boston College forward and his teammates watched the game from Detroit, where they competed in a tournament earlier Friday. Jimmy was acquired via trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, while Kevin was drafted by the Blackhawks (1st round, 24th overall) in the 2010 Entry Draft. Jimmy also played for BC.
Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville liked what he saw of Hayes, who made his presence immediately known.
"I liked him [tonight]," he said. "He had a great first shift. After that, he still had some presence and physicality. I thought he asserted himself well and was dangerous around the net. He didn't play a ton but I thought it was a good first game for him."