Jimmy Hayes, the fun-loving former NHLer who spent one season with the Devils and won a national championship at Boston College, died unexpectedly Monday morning at the age of 31.
The cause of death was not immediately known but foul play was not suspected, according to the Boston Globe, which cited local authorities and first responders.
Hayes was pronounced dead at his home in Milton, Mass., a suburb of Boston, the Globe reported.
According to Instagram posts Sunday from his wife, Kristen, Hayes and his family celebrated the birthday of their 2-year-old son, Beau, over the weekend.
Known for his big frame as much as his outsized personality, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound right winger had 54 goals and 109 points in 334 games over seven NHL seasons, the last of which came with New Jersey in 2017-18.
“When I think of a ‘locker room guy’ I think of Jimmy ‘Broadway’ Hayes,” former Devil Blake Coleman tweeted. “Very devastating news, he will be missed by so many, he always brought a smile to the rink in our time together in New Jersey.”
The Devils said Hayes’ “infectious personality and easygoing nature were contagious to all who spent time with him. He had a tremendous ability to make everyone feel welcome. You will be missed, Jimmy.”
After being selected in the second round of the 2008 draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Hayes starred for his hometown Boston College and won a national title in 2010, when he tallied 35 points in 42 games.
Following a trade from Toronto, Hayes made his NHL debut with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011 and also played for the Bruins and Panthers.
Hayes last played professionally in the 2018-19 season with a minor league affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After his playing days ended, Hayes joined “Missin Curfew,” a hockey and lifestyle podcast with other former NHLers Shane O’Brien and Scottie Upshall.
“We lost our brother today,” read a tweet from the podcast’s account. “Goodbye Jimmy, we will love you forever.”
In addition to Kristen and their 2-year-old, Hayes is survived by the couple’s 3-month-old boy, Mac; Hayes’ parents, Shelagh and Kevin Sr.; and siblings Genevieve, Eileen, Justine and Kevin, also an NHL player.
Kevin Hayes currently plays for the Flyers. The 29-year-old similarly starred at Boston College, before spending five seasons with the Rangers.