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Former Blackhawks forward Jimmy Hayes dies at 31

Hayes played 43 games for the Hawks and 120 games for the Rockford IceHogs from 2011 to 2013.

Jimmy Hayes began his seven-year NHL career with the Blackhawks from 2011 to 2013.
Jimmy Hayes began his seven-year NHL career with the Blackhawks from 2011 to 2013.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Jimmy Hayes, who started his NHL career with the Blackhawks in 2011 and played for them till 2013, died unexpectedly Monday. He was 31.

Police officers found Hayes dead at his home in the Boston suburb of Milton, Massachusetts, according to the Boston Globe. A cause of death hasn’t been disclosed, but foul play isn’t suspected.

‘‘We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of Jimmy Hayes,’’ the Hawks said in a statement on social media. ‘‘His warm personality made an immediate impact in the locker room and with our fans. We’re proud of the memories he made in Chicago.’’

The Hawks acquired Hayes’ rights from the Maple Leafs in 2010, one year after drafting his younger brother Kevin. Hayes called the trade a ‘‘complete surprise’’ at the time.

‘‘I couldn’t have been happier,’’ he said.

The brotherly union in Chicago never materialized because Kevin never signed with the Hawks, but Jimmy did in 2011 after a successful stint at Boston College, where won an NCAA championship.

Hayes went on to play 43 games for the Hawks, with six goals and seven assists. He also played 120 games for Rockford of the American Hockey League, notching 76 points there. He played briefly in the Hawks’ 2012 playoff series against the Coyotes but sat out during the 2013 Stanley Cup run.

After being dealt to the Panthers in the Kris Versteeg trade in November 2013, Hayes’ career took off. He became a valuable secondary scorer on the 2014-15 Panthers and 2015-16 Bruins and finished with 109 points in 334 NHL games.

Hayes last played in 2018-19 for the Penguins’ AHL affiliate. He co-hosted a podcast with fellow former NHL players Shane O’Brien and Scottie Upshall until earlier this month.

He leaves behind his wife, two young sons and four siblings, including Kevin, who now plays for the Flyers.