Jimmy Hayes was traded to the Bruins last week. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
New Bruins winger Jimmy Hayes joined Middays with MFB on Thursday afternoon to talk about coming home to Boston and how he’ll fit in with the B’s. To hear the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.
Hayes was traded from the Panthers to the Bruins on July 1 as return for Reilly Smith and Marc Savard‘s contract. As a native of Dorchester, the trade and subsequent signing served as a kind of homecoming for the 25-year-old.
“I was down on Cape Cod with six of my best buddies,” he said. “It was pretty cool, I got a phone call and turned around and told them I got traded to Boston, everyone’s high-fiving. It was just a really cool feeling to be around friends and family, to get traded back to your hometown.”
One of those with him during the call was his brother, Kevin, who played alongside Jimmy at Boston College and now suits up for the Rangers. This past season marked the first time that the brothers ever played on opposing sides of the ice as they grew up playing with one another.
“He was laughing,” Jimmy said. “He didn’t see it coming … he’s in a great situation right now with New York, but it was just funny because we both dreamed of playing for the Bruins as kids, and now for me to finally be able to do it on a nightly basis is going to be incredible.”
Initially drafted by the Maple Leafs in Round 2 of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft prior to his first season at BC, Hayes was then traded to the Blackhawks in June of 2010 in exchange for a second-round pick in that year’s draft. In 2013, the 6-foot-6 forward was part of a deal sending him and defenseman Dylan Olsen to Florida for Kris Versteeg and Philippe Lefebvre. Now he’s back in Boston.
“It was crazy,” Hayes said. “It’s the third time I’ve been traded so you kind have a funny feeling, but when [Panthers general manager] Dale Tallon told me I was going to Boston, it was a dream come true. I had a smile on my face. To come home to my parents and the rest of my family and the fans of Boston is just a dream come true. I’ve always dreamed of wearing the Bruins jersey.”
It’s no secret that Hayes is a big guy, and though he didn’t immediately know how to use his size to his advantage, it’s definitely something he continues to work on.
“I’m going into my fifth year pro and I’ve been trying to learn the best ways for me to be effective, and it is using my size,” he said. “It took me a while to figure it out and play a certain way, and now I continue to develop the way I want to play, the north-south, power forward type game.”
That north-south characteristic is part of what makes the Bruins’ game so appealing to Hayes as he considered in which ways he’d be able to best contribute.
“They play a game that I like to play,” he said. “They like to play a north-south game, and they like to play with a lot of speed, and they like to play a heavy game. Being a big guy, I have to continue to develop playing that heavy game.”
With former Duck Matt Beleskey recently signed on for next season too, Hayes, who will wear No. 11 this year in honor of his good friend Corey Griffin’s passing last summer, said he likes the look of the Bruins so far.
“I think Matt and I are going to be ourselves,” he said. “We play a certain style of game, and we play a game the Bruins want to play. The Bruins have some terrific players up front with [Patrice] Bergeron and [David] Krejci, I mean those are All-Star type players, so I think we’re going to have all the leadership as well with Zdeno Chara, and I think it’s going to be an incredible team, to be honest.”
The Bruins haven’t identified a particular center for Hayes yet, who has played both left and right wing in his professional career, but he is appreciative to have a chance on a line with any of them.
“They’re deep down the middle,” he said. “Those are some talented players. I just think to have an opportunity to play with any of those guys, they’re great setup guys and I’ve just got to continue to work on my scoring touch and be able to finish off great plays that they’re going to be making.”