The Panthers young gun forward discusses his first couple of months with the Cats after coming over in a trade, the transition from college to the pros, what he likes to do on his off days and more.
Your first couple of months with the Panthers, how do you think it's gone?
Hayes – It's gone really well. I'm continuing to learn. I think we have got a great team here and I think we're moving in the right direction with the young guys and the leadership we have here is showing us how to be an everyday pro and just how to prepare.
How exciting is it to be a part of this group of young guys in their early 20s?
Hayes – It's nice but it's kind of weird saying that I'm one of the older guys of the young guys. I'm 24 but it's always fun to be having some players your own age to play with but you also need that veteran leadership because you need to learn. You need to see how those guys conduct themselves. Just see what they're doing to get ready to play every night because I want to be in the same league they are at that age so I just have to continue to watch them and develop to where they are.
What has your transition from playing hockey at Boston College to now been like for you?
Hayes – I was lucky enough to go to a great school where the coaching staff actually prepared me for the next level with Coach York, Coach Gromley and Coach Cavanaugh. They made sure that my game was ready so that when I wanted to leave after my junior year that I was ready to step right in to the pro game. Obviously the speed is a lot quicker here so the transition with the speed has been the biggest adjustment for me.
Was it a tough decision to make to turn pro after your junior year?
Hayes – I set some goals for myself at the beginning of my junior season and I hit all of my goals. I won a national championship my sophomore year. We had a great team my junior year but we got upset early in the tournament. I had my mind almost made up by the end of the year that I wanted to do turn pro.
What's the biggest thing you've learned in your first couple of years as a pro?
Hayes – The biggest thing that I've learned is consistency. You have to make sure you show up every night. It's a process. You go from playing 40 games a year to 82 so you have to make sure that you're plugged in all the time and making sure you're taking advantage of every opportunity that you have.
|Hayes skates up the ice at BB&T Center (Getty Images) |
The trade in November that brought you to the Panthers wasn't the first trade you were involved in but what was that like to find out you were traded and traded to Florida?
Hayes – It's crazy to find out you are traded. I wasn't really expecting it but it was a huge opportunity for me. I just needed to find a team that really wanted me and luckily I was able to land here in Florida and continue to develop as a pro and get into the every-day lifestyle an an NHLer.
Dylan Olsen said you were playing some cards at the time of the trade when you found out?
Hayes – Yeah we were actually in a hotel room when we found out. There were about five of us playing some cards.
What's that like to come in to a new place with Dylan?
Hayes – It’s nice knowing a guy when you get traded because I remember when I first got traded, Olsen went to the minors so I came up and I didn't really know anybody other than Mike Mottau and Scott Clemmensen because they were guys that went to BC. I had heard of Nick Bjugstad through my little brother but it's nice to make some friends here. They're a bunch of great guys. We added another player with Brandon Pirri. I played with him in the minors so I know him really well.
You have an off day. How are you spending it?
Hayes – It all depends. I like to relax and hang out with my buddies who are around here. My girlfriend is in right now so I've been hanging out with here but if I'm around on an off day I'll go down and hang out with Jonathan Huberdeau in Fort Lauderdale, play some video games, maybe check out the beach, walk down Las Olas and grab a bite to eat.
What would you say is your favorite restaurant in South Florida?
Hayes – My favorite restaurant is Europa Cafe on Las Olas.
Any TV shows that you're watching these days?
Hayes – I'm a big TV fan. I'm watching Scandal, The Following, Revenge, Suits and I have to get caught up on Homeland and I have to start True Detective. I have a lot of them.