His older brother Jimmy Hayes died suddenly at the age of 31.
Jimmy Hayes retired from professional hockey in 2019, so his joy for the game was funneled through the success of his younger brother on the Flyers. He followed every game and, good or bad, loved talking about it afterward.
He believed his brother was an All-Star. On Thursday, Jimmy Hayes was proven right.
Kevin Hayes was named to his first-ever NHL All-Star Game. The 30-year-old forward from Dorchester, Massachusetts will represent the Flyers at the 2023 All-Star festivities Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida.
"It could have been a couple of guys in this room," Hayes said Thursday after the Flyers' 6-2 win over the Coyotes. "It's nice to be nominated as an All-Star. It's a cool situation for me because, not to get emotional but, it's probably the only thing my brother, since he stopped playing hockey, wanted me to accomplish. I never honestly thought it would happen. It did and it's cool."
Hayes will enjoy all the All-Star fun with his nephew Beau, the oldest of his brother's two boys.
"I know my family's really excited," Hayes said. "His son Beau will be with me the whole time, so it'll be an extra special experience."
Hayes owns a team-leading 25 assists to go along with 10 goals through 38 games. He enters the weekend projected to finish with 21 goals and a career-high 74 points.
"He's been great for us this year," Carter Hart said. "He's been a workhorse for us on the front end there, makes a lot of skilled plays, he's a very skilled player, protects the puck really well. He's been working hard, so it's well-deserving for him."
Travis Konecny, who is first on the Flyers in goals (20) and points (40), was also happy for Hayes.
"It's pretty special for him," Konecny, the team's 2020 All-Star, said. "I'm sure he's going to have his brother's kids there, too, enjoying it and being a part of that, so it's going to be an awesome experience for him. We're all really happy for him."
Last season, Hayes had to trudge through recoveries from three separate abdominal surgeries. The third procedure was required because a "real bad infection" had developed in his groin area.
Hayes has put those issues in the past with his first All-Star nod.
"The best part is just kind of waking up and going to the rink and feeling healthy, which is a major step compared to the last couple of years," Hayes said. "It's cool to be nominated, but it could have been anyone."
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