The Boston Bruins signed Dorchester native Jimmy Hayes to a three-year, $2.3 million contract on Monday, cementing a trade deal that sent hockey-crazed Dorchester fans into the stratosphere just before the July 4th holiday.
Hayes, a 25-year-old Westglow Street native who learned to skate and score on the ice at Neponset’s Devine Rink before becoming a national champion at Boston College, joins the Bruins from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Reilly Smith and the contract of Marc Savard.
All of this is much more than a tweak to the hometown roster.
Eire Pub owner John Stenson, who watched Hayes grow up, says it’s about time that he has returned to his hometown. “I love it,” said Stenson. “The whole neighborhood loves it. Jimmy has been away for a while now.”
A 6-foot-6, 221-pound forward, Hayes has 36 goals and 30 assists in his NHL career to date. Before playing for the Panthers, Hayes was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs and broke into the pros with the Chicago Blackhawks. Prior to turning pro, he helped the BC Eagles win the Division 1 NCAA championship in 2010. His younger brother Kevin is also in the NHL, and currently plays for the New York Rangers.
For Jimmy’s father Kevin, “It’s very exciting. It’s a dream come true for him. He was a Bruins fan growing up and now he’s coming back to play five miles from where he lives. It’s great.” His dad says Jimmy’s involvement with Dorchester Youth Hockey as a child was instrumental to his success as a professional. Added Eddie Waters, as he pointed to his Dorchester Youth Hockey t-shirt: “I think it basically says that Dorchester has a good youth hockey program.”
Kevin senior say these moves bring much-deserved recognition to the neighborhood. “It just goes to show this is a great spot to live, a great spot to bring up your kids, and you can be successful coming out of here.” He added that he looks forward to having his son looked up to by local kids hoping to make it into the NHL some day.
“He can be a role model now for all the kids in the neighborhood. And not just the neighborhood; the kids in Boston, too, “ he said. “He can show them that if you go to school, work hard, and do the right things on and off the ice, then you can achieve your goal.”
Tom Ward of Adams Village thinks Jimmy’s presence on the Bruins will have an impact on the entire community—even those who aren’t die-hard fans. “I don’t know him too good, but anybody from Dorchester is going to give us inspiration to watch hockey more,” said Ward. “Hopefully he does good, and I’m looking forward to seeing him play.”
Kevin expects his son to bring his good work ethic and a lot of goals to the team, but Stenson says Jimmy has a unique quality that will be beneficial to the Bruins this season – “a certain leadership quality. Jimmy’s always been kind of a leader—a quiet leader—but he’s always been a leader,” Stenson said. “So I think those characteristics will shine with the Bruins.”
In an interview on BostonBruins.com, team general manager Don Sweeney said Hayes will be a real asset for the team. “We’re extremely excited to have a player like Jimmy heading to our team,” said Sweeney. “He has a lot of upside. He had a breakout year offensively, and I think he’s excited to play with the center men that we have. He was equally excited, obviously, with the young players they had in Florida. He’s got a chance to come home and play in front of his family and friends, which will present some challenges for him as well, but he went to school here… I thought it made a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons,” Sweeney told reporters.
For his part, Hayes said he’s ready to make an impact for his hometown team. “I’m a big guy — I know the Bruins like to play the big, power-type style of game,” he told the team outlet. “So I’m going to have to continue to develop myself into that type of player and continue to use my size and scoring ability to my advantage.”
His dad plans on attending as many Bruins games as he possibly can this season, and says the only games he’ll miss will be when he’s in New York watching Kevin. He adds that his sons are very competitive with each other, and he’s looking forward to the day when they will face off against each other on the ice.
“New York actually comes into the Garden the day after Thanksgiving, so that will be a crazy day. But it’ll be a fun day,” the senior Hayes said. In the Garden that day, he won’t be wearing Bruins or Rangers attire. He will simply watch his two sons make history on the ice of the their hometown rink.