Jimmy Hayes made Boston proud over a successful hockey career, but he left an equally lasting legacy off the ice.
The Boston native, who starred at Boston College and spent two of his seven NHL seasons with the Bruins, died Monday at age 31. While the news was deeply saddening, former B's defenseman Torey Krug chose to remember what made Hayes a great teammate.
"Jimmy was just a special guy," Krug told WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show" on Wednesday. "Literally every single room he walked into, he lit it up with a smile, a joke, a laugh. It's hard to put into words what he meant to not only his teammates but his family. They have such a strong family."
Hayes' brother, Kevin Hayes, is a forward for the Philadelphia Flyers, while the Hayes' are cousins of former NHL players Keith Tkachuk and Tom Fitzgerald.
Jimmy Hayes spent his first four NHL seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers, but Krug recalled him being thrilled about joining his hometown Bruins in 2015.
"He was so excited to wear that Boston Bruins sweater," Krug said. " ... We knew what it meant for him to wear the Bruins sweater, what a dream come true it was to play in front of his friends and family."
Hayes scored 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists) over 133 games with Boston and also recorded 202 hits as a physical, hard-nosed forward. But Krug will remember his ex-teammate most for his buoyant personality.
"You don't hear people talk about the championships and all the goals he's scored over the years," Krug added. "There were plenty of those.
"... You hear them all talk about his character and how much fun he was to be around and that smile. So, it's been a very tough few days."