Jimmy Hayes has spectacular bloodlines. The Leafs prospect is the second cousin of longtime NHLers Tom Fitzgerald and Keith Tkachuk.
He has a few more elements to draw on. Hayes is six-foot-five and 220 pounds with an excellent skating stride for a 21-year-old still growing into his body.
And heaven knows, the Boston College winger has been to enough big games.
“My Dad is a ticket broker,” he said from Boston where he was moving into a new place in preparation for summer school. “I’ve gotten pretty spoiled. I’ve been to All-Star games, Super Bowls and the World Series.”
Hayes was a member of the Boston College team that dropped Wisconsin 5-0 to claim the National Championship in April.
After a freshman season in which he scored eight goals and focused his attention on being in the roster, Hayes scored 13 times and added 22 assists in his sophomore year.
“My first year was difficult. I put a ton of pressure on myself to play every day,” he said.
In the end, Hayes was a healthy scratch only once in his first year at BC. “In the second year, you’ve sort of figured it out a little bit. I grew up a lot as a person.”
Hayes leaned on his cousins for advice on how to handle the transition from the U.S. National program to college. Mostly though, he continued to figure out how to play a robust game.
“I started to get my confidence back."
BC waded through an early season in which the club struggled to score but in the second half of the season, the players went on a season-long rampage.
“Our coaches are big on skill development,” said Hayes. “We have some systems we are true to on defence but on the offensive side they pretty well leave us alone.”
Hayes was the 60th choice, in the second round in the 2008 draft. While a willingness to fight is one of the distinguishing marks of a power forward, Hayes said his shoulder and legs can get him by at the college level.
“You can still be tough and not fight. What you’ve got to do is finish. If I finish enough defencemen and forwards, I can get the job done.”