Bruins Honor Jimmy Hayes in Season Opener: ‘Thinking of You Always'

The former Boston Bruins forward died unexpectedly in August at his home in Milton, Mass.

2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Boston Bruins Family Skate
Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

The Bruins opened their 2021-22 NHL season Saturday night in Boston, and there was a special decal on the players' helmets as they stepped onto the ice at TD Garden.

The "Jimmy 11" decals honor former Boston Bruins forward Jimmy Hayes, who died unexpectedly on Aug. 23 at his home in Milton, Massachusetts. The married father of two young boys was just 31.

Pictures posted to the Bruins social media channels Saturday show the black circle decal featuring a yellow shamrock with the No. 11 in the center and "Jimmy" written above it in white script.

Born in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Hayes was a hometown standout at Boston College, where he helped the Eagles win a national championship as a sophomore in 2010.

Hayes went on to enjoy seven years in the National Hockey League, playing in 334 games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Bruins and the New Jersey Devils.

After getting his NHL start with the Blackhawks in 2011, Hayes' childhood dream was fulfilled when he joined the Bruins in 2015. He spent two seasons in Boston before his professional career came to an end with the Devils in 2017-18.

The Devils are among several other NHL teams who have honored Hayes as the new season gets underway.

New Jersey players also sported decals honoring Hayes when they stepped onto the ice for their season opener, and additionally they wore special jerseys with Hayes' nickname across the back.

The team posted pictures to its social media accounts, as well as a touching video tribute to Hayes that included highlights from his time with all four teams.

In addition to showcasing goals in his black and gold jersey, the video posted by the Devils also shows Hayes off the ice with his family in Massachusetts, including his wife Kristen, their two boys Beau and Mac, and his younger brother Kevin.

Hayes' widow Kristen was in attendance for the Devils' season opener Friday against the Blackhawks, and regularly posts tributes to her late husband on her Instagram page.

Hayes' brother Kevin, who is in the third season of a $50 million, seven-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, recently opened up to the Associated Press about playing this season for his brother. Although Kevin Hayes is out another few weeks following abdominal surgery, the Flyers will face the Bruins this week.

The B's -- who won their season opener against the Dallas Stars 3-1 Saturday night -- are back in action Wednesday in Philadelphia at 7:30 p.m.

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