Former NHLer Jimmy Hayes Had Fentanyl, Cocaine in System When He Died, Family Says

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVOctober 18, 2021

New Jersey Devils right wing Jimmy Hayes (10) wears a camouflage sweater during pregame warmups in honor of Veteran's Day prior to an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

A toxicology report revealed that former NHL player Jimmy Hayes had fentanyl and cocaine in his system when he died in August, his wife Kristen Hayes and father Kevin Hayes told Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe.

"I was completely shocked," Kristen told Shaughnessy about receiving the toxicology report Friday. "I was so certain that it had nothing to do with drugs. I really thought it was a heart attack or anything that wasn't [drugs]. ... It didn't make any sense, so it was hard. I was hoping to get a different phone call when they called. I was hoping to get some clarity and I was shocked to hear that it was that. ... He never showed any signs of a struggle at home."

Hayes' friends said they knew that he had developed an addiction to painkillers during his career, though he underwent treatment and his friends believed he had moved past it.

Hayes' father Kevin—who told Shaughnessy he's had an addiction in his own past—said he saw a change in his son's behavior a little over a year ago and reached out to him. That's when Hayes entered treatment.

"I hope getting Jimmy's story out there can save someone’s life," Kevin said. "If this can save someone from the pain, great. It's just so sad. I pride myself on being pretty mentally strong. I'm a street guy. But there's just no formula for this. You have a beautiful, All-American boy who made a terrible mistake and it cost him his life."

Hayes, 31, spent seven years in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils, registering 54 goals and 55 assists. He last played in the 2017-18 campaign. He also won a national championship with Boston College.

He and his wife Kristen had two boys.


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