'You paved the way for me': Kevin Hayes pays tribute to brother Jimmy Hayes

In this March 9, 2020, photo, Philadelphia Flyers' Kevin Hayes speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at Yards Brewing Company, in Philadelphia. (Matt Slocum / AP)

Kevin Hayes says he lost his "best friend" who paved the way for the Philadelphia Flyers forward when his older brother and former NHLer Jimmy Hayes died Monday at the age of 31.

Kevin Hayes paid tribute to his brother in an emotional Instagram post a day after it was announced that medics were called to Jimmy Hayes' home in the Boston suburbs where he was pronounced dead. No other details about his death were disclosed.

"Yesterday I lost my best friend, my brother. My whole life it has always been 'Jimmy and Kevin,' or 'the Hayes brothers.' I have followed you around since I can remember and I wouldn't want it any other way," wrote Kevin Hayes.

"Whether it was youth hockey, Nobles, Boston College or the NHL, you paved the way for me. You taught me everything I need to know in order to succeed."

Products of nearby Dorchester, Mass., the Hayes brothers both starred and won a national hockey championship at Boston College, sharing the ice for Kevin's freshman season in 2010-11.

Kevin Hayes said his brother, three years his senior, "lit up" every room he walked into with his smile and positive attitude.

"(He was) big, goofy, (a) horrible dancer, funny, genuine and kindest person around. I will never forget the times we shared or the memories we made and know that I will try my hardest to have your legacy live on," he wrote.

"Our world lost someone special and I don't know if I will ever be the same. But till we meet again, I love you, Jim."

Jimmy Hayes, a six-foot-five right wing, was drafted in the second round (60th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He made his NHL debut in December 2011 after a trade to the Chicago Blackhawks, putting up 109 points in 334 total games while also making stops in Florida, Boston and New Jersey.

He last played professionally in 2019 and had been a cohost of a podcast called "Missin Curfew."

With files from The Associated Press

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