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Ex-NHL player Jimmy Hayes died with fentanyl and cocaine in his system

Two months after his untimely passing, former NHL star Jimmy Hayes’s cause of death has been ruled an accidental overdose of cocaine and fentanyl. 

His widow, Kristen, and father, Kevin Sr., told the Boston Globe on Sunday that the Massachusetts state medical examiner determined Hayes, 31, died with fentanyl and cocaine in his system.

The medical examiner’s office also confirmed to People that Hayes’s cause of death was ‘acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl and cocaine.’

It is unclear if Hayes had taken the drugs separately. Many Americans have died in recent months from unwittingly taking recreational drugs laced with fentanyl, an extremely powerful synthetic painkiller. 

Hayes was found dead in his Milton, Massachusetts home on August 23, just a few hours after he and Kristen had been celebrating their son Beau’s second birthday with their other son, Mac who was born in May.

That night, Kristen shared an Instagram post around midnight showing them playing arcade games.

The autopsy was conducted just days after Hayes’s death, on August 25, but at the time the medical examiner’s office said the ’cause and manner of death remain pending and an update is not expected for several weeks when toxicology testing comes back.’

Kristen and Kevin Sr. said they received the news on Friday, before attending the New Jersey Devils’ season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks in a game paying tribute to the late player – with the Devils wearing a No. 10 jersey with Hayes’ Broadway nickname on the back and the Blackhawks donning a No. 39 sweater during warmups.

Former NHL player Jimmy Hayes died on August 23 of an accidental overdose, the Massachusetts medical examiner ruled

Jimmy was seen striking against his brother, Kevin, of the New York Rangers in a game in 2016

Jimmy was seen striking against his brother, Kevin, of the New York Rangers in a game in 2016

At a game on Friday, the New Jersey Devils honored Hayes with his number on the back of their uniforms and his Broadway nickname

At a game on Friday, the New Jersey Devils honored Hayes with his number on the back of their uniforms and his Broadway nickname

‘I was completely shocked,’ Kristen said of the news. ‘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 that [drugs].

‘It didn’t make any sense, so it was hard,’ she continued. ‘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.’

But according to the Globe, Hayes had had a problem with pain pills while playing after suffering a neck injury. 

‘I’m an addict myself,’ his father, Kevin Sr., told the Globe. ‘I’m sober a long, long time, but I know how powerful this stuff is.

‘I was in shock when it happened, but then I started putting stuff together in my head,’ Kevin added, noting that his son ‘made a terrible mistake and it cost him his life.’

‘About 16 or 17 months ago, I saw a little change in Jimmy’s behavior, and I went to him and I said, “I think there might be a problem here with pills,”‘ Kevin recounted. ‘He had an injury for a while and I think he started taking the painkillers – and they get you.’

He confessed that his son told him at the time: ‘Dad. I’m hooked on these pills. I got injured and I started taking them and I never got off.’

Still, Kristen said, ‘I know he would give anything to still be here with us today.

‘I am heartbroken and devastated, but I will choose to remember my husband the boys’ dad by all the joy he brought us.’ 

Hayes's wife, Kristen, right, said she was shocked to hear he died of an overdose

Hayes’s wife, Kristen, right, said she was shocked to hear he died of an overdose

The couple had been celebrating their son Beau's birthday the night before he died

The couple had been celebrating their son Beau’s birthday the night before he died

Kristen said she knows Hayes would want to still be with her and their sons, seen here at Devine Rink, which created a tribute to Jimmy

Kristen said she knows Hayes would want to still be with her and their sons, seen here at Devine Rink, which created a tribute to Jimmy

Hayes, a 6-foot-5-inch, 215-pound right winger, played 334 games in the NHL for four teams, including the Bruins from 2015-17. Hayes, a 6-foot-5 right wing, was drafted in the second round (60th overall) in 2008 by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

During his time at Boston College, Hayes contributed to the team’s second straight NCAA title, scoring 13 goals and registering 22 assists in 42 games his sophomore year.   

He made his NHL debut in December 2011 after a trade to the Chicago Blackhawks, before playing for the Florida Panthers, where he enjoyed his most successful spell, scoring 19 goals and 16 assists in 72 games.

After three years in Florida, he sealed a dream move to his boyhood, the Boston Bruins, in 2015. He had 15 goals and 33 points in 133 games for them before moving on to play for the New Jersey Devils.

Hayes had also won silver medals with Team USA in the 2007 Under-18 World Junior Championship and the 2009 U-20s, and with his younger brother, Kevin, who played for the Americans at the 2014 World Championships. 

In total, Haynes scored 54 goals and 109 points for all teams. He retired in 2019 after playing in the AHL. 

Post-retirement, he cohosted a podcast with fellow former NHL players Shane O’Brien and Scottie Upshall called ‘Missin Curfew.’

His last appearance on it was on August 5.  

Following the announcement of his death, several teams posted tributes to the late player

Following the announcement of his death, several teams posted tributes to the late player

Following the announcement of his death, the Bruins wrote on Twitter that they are ‘heartbroken by the passing of Dorchester native and former Bruin Jimmy Hayes. Our thoughts are with his wife Kristen, his sons Beau and Mac, and the entire Hayes family during this very difficult time.’ 

‘His warm personality made an immediate impact in the locker room and with our fans,’ the Blackhawks said in a statement. ‘We’re proud of the memories he made in Chicago.’ 

Boston College, where Hayes is held with high regards, released a statement on Twitter along with a picture of Hayes lifting the national championship trophy in 2010.

‘Boston College is heartbroken over the passing of Jimmy Hayes. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Hayes family.’

A funeral was held for Hayes on August 29 in his hometown of Dorchester, Massachusetts

 A funeral was held for Hayes on August 29 in his hometown of Dorchester, Massachusetts

Kevin described his older brother as 'caring, loving, generous, loyal and determined'

Kevin described his older brother as ‘caring, loving, generous, loyal and determined’

A funeral was held for him on August 29, complete with local youth athletes dressed in Dorchester Youth Hockey jerseys lining the streets to pay homage to the local hero and his younger brother Kevin Hayes, who plays for the Philadelphia Flyers, saying Jimmy ‘made me the best version of myself.’

He described his older brother as ‘caring, loving, generous, loyal and determined.’

‘As a brother, he built us up every way he could,’ Kevin said. ‘He brought joy and laughter into every interaction.’ 

In addition to his wife and children, Hayes leaves four siblings, Genevieve, Eileen, Justine, and Kevin; and parents Shelagh and Kevin Sr. 


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