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VOORHEES, NJ – When Kevin Hayes scores, he taps the top of his left arm and then points to the sky.

Hayes made those two meaningful gestures after the sudden death of his older brother, Jimmy Hayes, on August 23, 2021.

The celebration honors the life of his “biggest supporter.”

But, most importantly, the 3-year-old boy is on fire as he watches Hayes demonstrate.

His nephew Bo.

“All he cares about is that I’m pointing to the sky after every goal,” Hayes said Tuesday morning. “He wakes up every morning, sleeps in his hockey pants, shoots, scores, and points to the sky. That’s why I do it.”

Boo is the older of two sons Jimmy Hayes had with his wife, Kristen. When his uncle leaves next week for the 2023 NHL All-Star festivities in Sunrise, Fla., Bo will be along for the ride while his mother and younger brother, Mac, watch from home.

Hayes, a first-time All-Star, will soak in the memory with his nephew, fiancee and family.

“It’s going to be a great weekend for me because a.) I never thought I’d be an All-Star, b.) my whole family can experience it, and c) it was the only legitimate thing my brother wanted me to do. to do, and Boo is now adding to that,” Hayes said. “It’s going to be a great week.”

Hayes has a tattoo on his upper left arm commemorating the life of his brother, who died at the age of 31. In November 2021, Hayes instinctively pointed to the sky after scoring his first goal of the season. The moment came three months after his brother’s death and in his second game since undergoing a second abdominal surgery.

“I didn’t plan to do something like that. It just happened that game,” Hayes said of the celebration. “And Bo was obsessed with it. I FaceTime him every day and he has his hockey helmet on and he’s pointing at the sky. Now the main reason is for him to see it. She goes to sleep, but he wakes up and watches. All the Flyers highlights. If I score a goal, he sees it, calls me and says: “You did it for me!” That’s a little bond we have.”

Kyle Ross / USA Today Pictures

The Hayes family is from Dorchester, Massachusetts. Both brothers played at Boston College on their way to the NHL. Hayes said Bo was “so addicted to hockey.” He follows the Flyers and Bruins.

“It’s crazy, he’s a hockey genius right now for a 3-year-old,” Hayes said. “You ask him about a player, he will tell you which team he plays for. His favorite player is Brad Marchand, who is in a bit of a slump.”

Aren’t you?

“No, not yet,” Hayes said with a laugh. “But with Brad, he’s been incredible [Beau]”.

Finally healthy again, Hayes scored at a career-best pace this season. The 30-year-old entered Tuesday with 43 points (15 goals, 28 assists) in 47 games. He is projected to finish with career highs in goals (26) and points (74).

However, her season hasn’t exactly been a red carpet of roses. John Tortorella benched Hayes for the entire third period twice and a complete game once. In late November, the head coach highlighted defensive issues as the reason he moved Hayes (a natural center) to winger.

“Kevin and I talked about it right away,” Tortorella said Tuesday morning. “There was never a confrontation. There was honesty. And I appreciate that from Kevin. He has also been honest with me.

“For a veteran guy and some of the things he’s been through, I think he’s handled them well.

“If you ask Kevin, he’s probably had a tough year. He’s lost some minutes playing a different position, not leading on the power play at times, it’s all part of the process he’s going through and I think he’s handled himself. good.”

And when Hayes scores, he’ll continue to point to the sky, always remembering his brother’s life and giving Bo someone to look up to.

“It’s crazy when people come through, it’s so emotional in such a short time with everyone reaching out. But it’s getting harder because people stop reaching out,” Hayes said. “I don’t expect people to always ask. But it’s a small, small connection that I can have with my nephew. That’s why I do it.”

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