A toxicology report revealed that former NHLer Jimmy Hayes had fentanyl and cocaine in his system at the time of his death, Hayes's family told Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe.
The 31-year-old Hayes was found dead on Aug. 23, just hours after celebrating the birthday of his two-year-old son. His wife and father spoke to the Globe on Sunday, two days after receiving the report that revealed his cause of death.
Hayes's wife, Kristen, told Shaughnessy that she was shocked to learn the news, although she and many of his friends knew the former winger had developed a pill issue during his NHL career and had recently undergone treatment for addiction problems.
“I was completely shocked,’’ Kristen told the Globe. “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]. ... He never showed any signs of a struggle at home.’’
Shaughnessy reports that Jimmy's dad, Kevin Hayes, wasn't as surprised as most. Himself an addict, Kevin says he noticed something was off with his oldest son over a year before his passing.
Now, he hopes that telling his story will prevent it from happening to other athletes.
“He called me ... and said, ‘Dad, I’m hooked on these pills. I got injured and I started taking them and I never got off,’" Kevin Hayes told the Globe. "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 brother, Kevin Hayes Jr., is a forward with the Philadelphia Flyers. After taking some time to mourn his brother's death, Kevin Jr. released a powerful statement, reflecting on what the tragic death meant to him.
"I lost my best friend and my brother. [Kristen] lost her husband and her father to her kids," Kevin Jr. said.
"It's tough, I can accept what happened, that my brother's gone and he died. I'm 29 years old and I understand what death is. The thing that I can't get my head around, the whole, not to get spiritual, but God. Being mad at God. ... I don't understand how those two kids don't have a dad anymore. I can't accept that. I don't think I ever will. But I also look at God sending different messages."
Jimmy Hayes played 334 NHL games with four different organizations in the Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers.
“I hope getting Jimmy’s story out there can save someone’s life," Kevin Hayes Sr. told the Globe. "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.
“You have a beautiful, All-American boy who made a terrible mistake and it cost him his life.’’
More from Yahoo Sports