The typical life of NHL brothers Kevin and Jimmy Hayes

ByJoe McDonald ESPN logo
Thursday, August 20, 2015

A preteen hockey player had just finished practice on one of the ice surfaces at Foxboro Sports Center in Foxborough, Massachusetts, Tuesday when he entered the lobby area still in full equipment.

"Are the pros here?" he asked, nearly out of breath.

He was directed to Rink 1, so he quickly pushed his way through a pair of heavy double doors. A few minutes later, he returned to the lobby to find his friends.

"Charlie Coyle, Kevin Hayes and Keith Yandle are here, and I heard Brian Boyle and Brooks Orpik are here, too," the young player said. The group of boys sprinted back to Rink 1, where nearly 20 professional hockey players were conducting on-ice skills in preparation for the 2015-16 season.

Coyle (Minnesota Wild), along with Hayes and Yandle (New York Rangers) were on the ice as the group of young boys, with their baseball hats on backward, watched in awe. It was close to 1 p.m. and the pros had already been on the ice for nearly an hour when Hayes skated by and the boys banged on the glass.

Hayes and his older brother, Jimmy (Boston Bruins), grew up only a saucer pass north of Foxborough, in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

The Bruins acquired Jimmy Hayes, a 25-year-old forward, in a trade with the Florida Panthers earlier this summer in exchange for Reilly Smith. Kevin Hayes, a 23-year-old forward, played his rookie season for the Rangers during the 2014-15 season and helped New York reach the Eastern Conference finals before losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Both products of Boston College, the brothers spend their summers living together in Back Bay, a neighborhood of Boston. They spend nearly the entire day, every day with each other.

"It's pretty cool," Kevin said. "We live together in Boston and we have a pretty similar schedule. A lot of people have jobs in the summer, and yeah, you can call this a job for us, but it's fun and it's pretty unique that two of us are doing the same exact thing in the NHL. It's pretty cool to wake up every day together, drive to work out, skate, go get lunch and we spend about 10 to 12 hours a day together during the summer and it's pretty cool."

You could call them the hockey version of Felix and Oscar from "The Odd Couple."

"It's a lot of fun living with him," Jimmy said. "He got there obviously a lot later than I did, going so far in the playoffs, but it's a nice experience just being brothers and both being professional athletes. We are on the same schedule doing the same thing and it's fun to wake up, drive to workouts together, get breakfast together, we just do a lot of things together, so it's a lot of fun for me to live with him for three or four months out of the year. He's a funny kid, so you always get a big laugh. It's a treat for me and I enjoy it every summer."

As kids, the brothers got along, but with the slight age difference, Kevin usually was the one stuck at home while Jimmy and their other siblings were off playing.

"We didn't spend too much time together growing up," Kevin said. "I was the youngest of five, so I hung out with my mom a lot. He was three years older, so it was awkward because his friends were a little too old to hang out with."

Jimmy admits the two have been getting closer as they get older.

"Especially now that we're doing the same thing as a job and competing against each other, and rooting for each other at the same time," he said. "It's a great experience for me and him, but especially our whole family, including my sisters and my parents. They're enjoying the ride and so are we."

From a fan standpoint, while the Hayes brothers grew up only a few miles from the old Boston Garden and the current TD Garden, the boys followed the St. Louis Blues because their cousin,Keith Tkachuk, spent nine seasons with that organization.

Or maybe Kevin admits he wasn't a Bruins fan because Jimmy now plays for Boston.

"It's funny because we both dreamed about playing for the Bruins as kids, and now it's a reality for me, but he has a pretty good gig going on in New York so I don't think he has too much jealously there," Jimmy said.

Being back in Boston and playing in front of friends and family could be a challenge for Jimmy, especially with all the attention and ticket requests he's already been receiving. Those close to him, however, believe Jimmy will be just fine playing for the Bruins.

"I'm happy he's back in Boston," Kevin said. "He's happy and I'm sure my parents are happy because it's [an] easy drive [to games]. I'm sure my sisters are a little upset because they can't go to Florida anymore to visit him, but I'm excited for him."

Jimmy has been showing a determination to succeed in Boston with his offseason workouts at Edge Performance Systems.

"He's been coming here since he was 15 and this is the best summer he's had," said Brian McDonough, the owner of EPS. "I have never seen him this focused. He's gone above and beyond expectations."

Yandle, 28, is a close friend of the Hayes' and spent his entire career with the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes before he was traded to the Rangers last season. He's watched both players develop on and off the ice.

"I got a real appreciation for Kevin's game last season being able to play with him," Yandle said. "We [Arizona] played against him early in the season and you could tell he just probably didn't have the confidence that he has now. Towards the end of the year, after the All-Star break, he was amazing. He was awesome. To be able to play with him and see how hard he works in practice, and how he works out in the summer, it's cool to see a local kid doing as well as him, especially having his brother Jimmy doing just as well.

"For Jimmy to be playing for the Bruins, and to be back in Boston, it's got to be a great feeling for everyone in their family and the neighborhood where they grew up. You feel a sense of pride with the people around them and the support they get."

A normal offseason day begins with an hourlong drive from their Back Bay apartment to the Foxboro Sports Center. The off-ice workout begins at 9:45 a.m. at Edge Performance Systems, along with several other local pro hockey players, including Yandle, Coyle, Brian Boyle of the Lightning, Noah Hanifin of the Carolina Hurricanes and rookie Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres.

The group is put through an intense workout that lasts nearly two hours. After a short break to catch their breath and grab a nutritional shake, it's time for the on-ice portion of their day. It's an hour of nonstop skills and drills.

After 50 minutes Tuesday, Yandle was one of the first skaters off the ice.

"Yans, I'm going to take a few shifts," Kevin Hayes yelled, before jumping into the 5-on-5 portion of the skate.

The brothers Hayes have the same schedule four days a week for the majority of the summer. As training camp approaches, they focus more on the hockey side, while continuing their conditioning and strength training.

Meanwhile, Jimmy did not skate on Tuesday. Along with other members of the Bruins, Hayes participated in the annual Jimmy Fund Telethon at Fenway Park to raise money for cancer research.

"What a great day," he later said.

The best part of a normal day is lunch for Kevin, Jimmy and Yandle. After their workouts, they'll drive to Milton, Massachusetts, for a 2 p.m. lunch at Ichiro Sushi.

"The best sushi around," said the well-traveled Yandle, who is a native of Milton.

On this day, Yandle and Kevin Hayes brought along Hanifin. The 18-year-old rookie, who was selected No. 5 overall by the Hurricanes in June's draft, had never had sushi before.

"I'll order for him," Kevin told the waitress.

Hanifin looked nervous at first, but he was quite pleased with the lunch.

"Are there any good sushi places in Raleigh?" Hanifin asked Yandle.

After the midday eats, the players rested before heading to Babson College for a charity hockey game to benefit the 1st Lieutenant Derek Hines Fund. A native of Massachusetts and a 2003 graduate of the United States Military Academy, Hines died in the line of duty on Sept. 1, 2005, in Afghanistan.

Kevin and Jimmy Hayes, Yandle, Coyle, Eichel, Hanifin, along with other local professional, college and youth players, participated in the buzzer-style hockey game to benefit the charity. When it ended, the pros took pictures on the ice with the younger players and later signed autographs for nearly an hour in the locker room.

"It's pretty cool," Kevin said. "Whenever you can help out a local charity, or a charity in Massachusetts is pretty cool. I grew up playing against Trevor Hines and this charity is for his brother, so it's pretty cool to come back and just give back to the community."

It was a typical summer day for Jimmy and Kevin Hayes.

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