Hockey

‘He honestly was my biggest supporter’: Kevin Hayes opens up about brother Jimmy’s legacy

"It's just a relationship that not a lot of people have."

Kevin Hayes is a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. Matt Slocum/AP Photo

After nearly every game for the past few years, Kevin and Jimmy Hayes would FaceTime to discuss how the night unfolded.

Now, after his brother’s tragic death in August, Kevin said it still feels strange playing for the Philadelphia Flyers and knowing that Jimmy isn’t watching or there to chat afterward.

“He honestly was my biggest supporter,” Kevin told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan.

Kevin, a Dorchester native and Boston College product like his brother, played in front of a hometown crowd Thursday night in Boston. Beforehand, he spoke with Kaplan and discussed his brother’s legacy.

Jimmy, who played for the Bruins from 2015-17, died with fentanyl and cocaine in his system at age 31. Kevin, 29, is forever grateful for the unwavering support his brother showed over the years.

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“He still was in the NHL while he was telling everyone how good I am and how much better I am than him,” Kevin told Kaplan. “It’s just a relationship that not a lot of people have.”

When Kevin scored his first goal of the season against the Calgary Flames, he pointed to the sky and made sure to retrieve the puck for Jimmy’s 2-year-old son, Beau. He said “a lot of emotions” came through as he thought of his brother.

He’s incredibly thankful to everyone in the NHL – including Jimmy’s close friend Brad Marchand and the rest of the Bruins – for continuing to support the family months later.

Kevin said that everyone had their back in Dorchester during their childhood, and they both appreciated how the community stuck with them as their careers evolved and they switched teams.

“It was crazy going to get coffee and seeing these little kids wearing Hayes jerseys and Hayes T-shirts,” Kevin said. “As you get older, you kind of realize the impact you’ve had on people’s lives. People would come up to you and say, ‘My kid wants to be the next Kevin and Jimmy Hayes.’ That’s cool.”

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