For many 18 year olds, summer is a chance to take a break and catch up on some sleep. That has not been the case for Kevin Hayes, the Chicago Blackhawks’ first round pick (24th overall) in the 2010 entry draft.
The Massachusetts native spent last weekend at Blackhawks’ Prospect Camp in Chicago with other skaters vying for attention from the executives in the organization.
“It’s a dream come true. Growing up, it’s all I wanted is to play in the NHL and this is just a stepping stone to get there,” Hayes said Friday. “It’s pretty unbelievable to be out there.”
But last weekend was not the first time this summer when the left winger’s schedule has been different from his peers.
While many people Hayes’ age were wrapping up the tour of graduation parties in May, the Blackhawks draft pick was at the NHL Scouting Combine. And in June, when summer was officially underway for many, Hayes was waiting to see what the draft would tell him about his future.
“Going into the combine, that was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been,” Hayes said. “After the combine, it was a relief. It was kind of out of my hands. Once draft day came, I said I wasn’t going to be nervous. But I wasn’t nervous until I actually got to Los Angeles.”
But Hayes didn’t have to wait long to find out which team would make his dreams of playing in the NHL a step closer to reality. Before the first day of the draft was over, Hayes knew he would be a part of the Blackhawks organization, as Chicago drafted him in the first round (24th overall).
Donning the Blackhawks jersey did not come as a complete surprise to Hayes, though. Director of Player Recruitment Ron Anderson and Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Kelley were already familiar faces to Hayes.
“They were the first team ever to talk to me, actually about a year back,” Hayes said. “They came to a few of my games. I got to know Mr. Anderson and Mr. Kelley really good.”
For Hayes, who skates with Blackhawks skating coach Paul Vincent at home, Chicago was the team of choice.
“I was actually hoping to go to the Hawks,” Hayes said. “I told my dad about two months ago, he asked me where I wanted to go. I said it was bad luck if I told him. I said either the Hawks or the Bruins.”
The good news for the Hayes family did not end on Friday, though.
Kevin and his older brother, Jimmy, returned to the Staples Center on Saturday to support Kevin’s friend who was still waiting to hear his name. Jimmy, a second round draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2008, got some news of his own while they were there.
“I was sitting there and they announced ‘the Blackhawks trade the 43rd pick to Toronto for an unnamed, unsigned prospect,’” Jimmy said. “So I was looking around, going that could be me.
“And then like five minutes later I got a phone call saying I was traded. It was a pretty cool experience. It was a little shocking at first, and then I couldn’t have been more excited. It’s just a dream come true to play with him.”
By the time Prospect Camp rolled around last weekend, the Hayes brothers, who will skate together at Boston College next season, were getting a taste of what the future may hold.
“I love it,” Jimmy said. “We get along, we’re really close. It’s really fun.”
Kevin has his older brother to thank for making it possible for him to head to Boston College in the fall. With Jimmy already on campus, Kevin and Jimmy’s father was willing to let his younger son accelerate through his senior year of high school to join the collegiate ranks a year sooner.
But Jimmy is not bothered by the idea of spending so much time with his younger brother.
“It’s funny because my dad wasn’t going to let him accelerate in school unless I was there. So now I’m there and he’s coming in next year,” Jimmy said. “He was a junior this year in high school and he’s taking a couple summer courses to accelerate. So that’s pretty exciting that we’re both going to be playing with one another.”
Jimmy Hayes has already blazed a trail at Boston College for Kevin to follow. The right winger tallied 13 goals and 22 assists in his sophomore season, as the Eagles won the National Championship.
According to Boston College teammate and fellow Hawks prospect Ben Smith, Jimmy Hayes was a major factor in the playoffs.
“He really came on strong for us, I’d say January, February, March, in the college season and he was a big part of us going to the championship game and eventually winning,” Smith said.
Smith, who played on two National Champion teams at Boston College, was excited when he learned Jimmy Hayes would be joining him in the Blackhawks organization. The two were line mates for the last few months of the college season, and expect to bring their winning ways with them to the Hawks.
“We’re all close at school and it’s always nice to have familiar faces,” Smith. “When I was first at Prospect Camp we had Mike Brennan and Dan Bertram a couple years who were Boston College guys, and so the line continues with Jimmy and now Kevin.
“Coach (Mike) York is doing a great job there at BC,” Smith added. “We seem to always be in the Frozen Four and NCAA tournaments, so hopefully we’re winners and we bring that to the program.”
While the Hayes brothers may be looking to bring another National Championship to Boston College, their hockey goals do not end there. Both have their sights set on the NHL.
“We both want to make it. I hope he makes it, he hopes I make it,” Kevin Hayes said. “Hopefully we get to do it together.”
Jimmy and Kevin Hayes talk to the media at 2010 Prospect Camp: