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Know Your Cats: Jimmy Hayes

by Nathalie Sczublewski / Florida Panthers

Jimmy Hayes immersed himself with hockey at a young age. A Boston native, the Panthers forward grew up cheering for the Boston Bruins as well as college hockey teams like the Boston College Eagles. At age two, Hayes laced up ice skates for the first time and played organized hockey by the time he was six-years-old.

Hayes was raised in an Irish-Catholic neighborhood in Dorchester, Mass. In high school, Hayes played for the U.S. National Team that finished in fifth place at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship. He participated twice in the U.S. National Junior Team Evaluation Camp. During his senior year of high school, Hayes wanted a career as a professional ice hockey player. He applied to schools with prestigious hockey programs and was accepted into Boston College where he played for the Eagles.

In 2008, Hayes was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round (60th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa.

“I remember sitting there being real nervous and having the potential to go in the first round, but ended up getting picked in the second round,” said Hayes. “That relief of finally being picked, having a big smile on my face and having my whole family there was just incredible.”

With the Eagles, Hayes recorded 42 goals and 39 assists during his collegiate career (42-39—81). At the start of his sophomore season, his younger brother Kevin joined the team. The Eagles went on to win the NCAA Frozen Four Tournament in 2010.

“That was awesome. That was a really cool experience for us,” he said with a smile. “I left my junior year of college and they won another after I left, so I didn’t get to win it twice, but winning it once was an accomplishment.”

Grateful for his time playing for the Boston College Eagles, Hayes thanks his former coaches for shaping him into the player he is today.

 KNOW YOUR CATS: Jimmy Hayes

Position: Right Wing
Jersey Number: 12
From: Dorchester, Mass.
221 lbs.
Shoots: Right
Born: November 21, 1989 (25 years old)
Drafted: 2008 second round (60 overall) Toronto Maple Leafs.

Favorite Hockey Memory: Winning a National Championship at Boston College
Favorite Singer: " Drake and Meek Mill "
Favorite Movie: Shooter
Favorite Actor: Denzel Washington
Favorite Actress: Jennifer Aniston
Favorite Meal to Cook: Chicken Parm

“Greg Brown and Mike Cavanaugh were both huge in my development,” he said.

“Jerry York is one of the greats to learn the college game. He helped me develop more as a person than a hockey player. He was a huge influence to me.”

Now in his second season with the Panthers, Hayes enjoys living and playing hockey in South Florida. He loves the Panthers fan base and appreciates their admiration for the team.

On January 28, 2014, Hayes went through his gameday routine. He laced up his skates, pulled his Panthers jersey over his head and lined up with his teammates inside the visitor’s tunnel before puck drop at TD Garden against the Boston Bruins. He skated onto the ice for the first time as an NHL player in his hometown in front of family and friends cheering in the stands.

“Playing there for the first time as an NHL player was a huge experience, especially against a team you grew up rooting for,” he said. “To finally get a chance to play there and against them, was a dream come true.”

Since playing for the Panthers, Hayes has recorded 28 goals and 20 assists (28-20—48).

The six-foot-six forward faced a rare opportunity this season when the New York Rangers came to BB&T Center in late December. Hayes’s brother Kevin signed an entry-level contract with the Rangers this season and the Hayes brothers were reunited.

“It felt different. It was weird seeing him in a different jersey,” Hayes said. “We go from playing on the same team to playing against each other.”

During ice warm-ups, in typical older sibling fashion, Hayes wasn’t afraid to tease his little brother near center ice.

“I always like to tease him,” he laughed. “He’s had a great season so far, and I’m there to support him. It’s a cool experience for my parents having two sons in the NHL.”

As the season comes to a close, the Panthers are in the middle of the playoff race. Like the rest of his teammates, Hayes is in for the fight and experience.

“Every game means a lot to us,” he said. “It’s going to help us develop a lot into better players and play these big games as a young team. We’ve got to make sure we get these wins.”
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