Jimmy Hayes New Jersey Devils
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On Sunday, former NHL player Jimmy Hayes’ cause of death was announced, nearly two months after the 31-year-old was found dead in his home on Aug. 23. The cause of death was not announced until toxicology results came back. According to the Boston Globe, the cause of death was “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl and cocaine.”

Hayes’ widow Kristen Hayes commented on the results:

“I was completely shocked. 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. 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.”

Jimmy’s father Kevin commented on his own struggles with addiction.

“I’m an addict myself. 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 . . . I know what addiction does. I know about addiction,” he said.

He began noticing something was different with his son and it caught his attention.

“About maybe 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.’ He had had an injury for a while and I think he started taking the painkillers and they get you,” Kevin said. 

The 66-year-old made sure to reach out to his son and let him know he was there to help.

“I said, ‘Jim, I think I see a problem here.’ And he’s 31 years old so I can’t tell him to go get help. So I said, ‘When you want help, I’ll be here for you, pal. Let me know,’ Kevin said. 

“He called me three weeks later and said, ‘Dad, I’m hooked on these pills. I got injured and I started taking them and I never got off.’ And I said, ‘Well, let’s get you some help.’ He went to a place up in Haverhill. So he gets help and everything was on the path to recovery, I thought. But this [expletive] is so powerful.”

Jimmy’s family hopes the hockey player’s story will help someone else who is struggling. 

“I hope getting Jimmy’s story out there can save someone’s life. If this can save someone from the pain, great. It’s just so sad. I pride myself on being pretty mentally strong. I’m a street guy. But there’s just no formula for this,” Kevin said. 

Jimmy Hayes played for the Blackhawks, Panthers, Bruins and Devils over seven NHL seasons and retired after the 2017-18 season.