BOSTON, Massachusetts — A funeral was held Monday for hockey player Jimmy Hayes, the Boston native and one-time Bruins player who died earlier this month, to the shock of the local and national hockey community.
After the emotional ceremony in Dorchester, where the extended Hayes family is a fixture, children lined a street to honor the local who went on to wear No. 11 in black and gold by raising their hockey sticks.
Hayes' younger brother Kevin, an NHL player himself, spoke at the funeral, calling the last few days hard for his family and thanking the many people who've reached out with support.
"My whole life I followed Jimmy around, and it's worked out so far, because I'm basically crushing it," Hayes joked, before continuing, almost overcome with emotion, "It has always been 'the Hayes brothers,' or 'Jimmy and Kevin.'"
Jimmy Hayes' death at 31 was announced last Monday, bringing tributes from people all over, who remembered him as a fun-loving, engaging figure who touched everyone.
"He was the big brother that everyone would want," Kevin said at St. Ann's Church in Dorchester, adding later that the only time that Jimmy ever prioritized himself was when he was fixing his golf swing.
"Everyone in this church is a better person for having known my brother," he added.
Hayes' widow, Kristen, also spoke at the funeral, touching on how much her husband loved spending time with her and their two young boys -- Beau, 2, and Mac, 3 months.
After graduating from Boston College, Jimmy Hayes played 334 games in the NHL, including two seasons with the Bruins. His brother recalled a time when Jimmy brought a boy with cancer into the Bruins' locker room and gave him one of his best memories before the child died.
Along with scores of kids wearing Hayes jerseys spanning the length of his career on Hallet Street Monday, NHL star P.K. Subban was in Boston to pay tribute.
The Hayes brothers are also related to the Tkachuks -- Keith Tkachuk, one of the best Americans to play hockey, and his sons Matthew and Brady, who currently play in the league -- as well as Tom Fitzgerald, a former NHL player who is now the general manager of the New Jersey Devils.