The point behind Flyers All-Star Kevin Hayes’ point to the sky

VOORHEES, NJ — When Kevin Hayes scores a goal, he taps his upper left arm and then points skyward.

Hayes has performed those two meaningful gestures ever since the sudden death of his older brother Jimmy Hayes on Aug. 23, 2021.

The celebration honors the life of his “biggest supporter.”

But, most importantly, a 3-year-old boy back home lights up when he watches Hayes point up.

His nephew Beau.

“All he cares about is me pointing up to the sky after every goal,” Hayes said Tuesday morning. “He wakes up every morning — he falls asleep with his hockey pants on — he shoots and he scores and he points up to the sky. That’s the reason why I do it.”

Beau is the older of two sons Jimmy Hayes had with his wife Kristen. When his uncle heads to the 2023 NHL All-Star festivities next week in Sunrise, FloridaBeau will be along for the entire ride while his mom and younger brother Mac watch from home.

Hayes, a first-time All-Star, will soak in the memory with his nephew, fiancee and family.

“It’ll be a cool weekend for me because a.) I never thought I’d be an All-Star, b.) my whole family gets to experience it, c.) it was my brother’s legit only thing he wanted me to do and Beau gets added to it now,” Hayes said. “It’ll be an awesome weekend.”

Hayes has a tattoo on his upper left arm commemorating the life of his brother, who died at the age of 31. In November 2021, Hayes instinctually pointed to the sky after scoring his first goal of the season. The moment came less than three months following the death of his brother and in his second game back from a second abdominal surgery.

“I wasn’t planning on doing anything like that. It just happened that game back,” Hayes said of the celebration. “And Beau was obsessed with it. I FaceTime him every day basically and he has his hockey helmet on and he’s pointing to the sky. The main reason now is for him to see it. He goes to bed, but he wakes up and watches all the Flyers highlights. If I score, he sees it, he calls me and says, ‘You did that for me!’ It’s a little connection that we have.”

Kyle Ross/USA Today Images

The Hayes family is from Dorchester, Massachusetts. Both brothers played at Boston College en route to the NHL. Hayes said Beau is “so addicted to hockey.” He follows the Flyers and Bruins.

“It’s crazy, he’s a hockey genius right now for a 3-year-old,” Hayes said. “You ask him about a player, he’ll tell you what team he’s on. His favorite player is Brad Marchand, which is a little downer.”

It’s not you?

“No, not yet,” Hayes said with a laugh. “But Brad, he’s been unbelievable with [Beau].”

Finally healthy again, Hayes has scored at a career-best pace this season. The 30-year-old entered Tuesday with 43 points (15 goals, 28 assists) through 47 games. He’s projected to finish with career highs in goals (26) and points (74).

However, his season hasn’t exactly been a red carpet with roses. John Tortorella has benched Hayes for a full third period twice and a full game once. At the end of November, the head coach highlighted defensive issues for why he moved Hayes — a natural center — to winger.

“Kevin and I have talked right through this,” Tortorella said Tuesday morning. “There has never been a confrontation. There’s been honesty. And I appreciate that from Kevin. He’s been honest with me, too.

“For a veteran guy and some of the things he’s gone through, I think he has handled it well.

“If you asked Kevin, it’s probably been a hard year for him. He’s lost some minutes, playing a different position, sometimes not leading off on the power play — it’s all part of the process he’s going through and I think he has handled himself well.”

And when Hayes scores, he’ll continue to point to the sky — always remembering his brother’s life and giving Beau someone to emulate.

“It’s crazy, when people pass, it’s super emotional for such a short amount of time with everyone reaching out. But it gets harder as people stop reaching out,” Hayes said. “I don’t expect people to always be asking. But it’s just a little, tiny connection I can have with my nephew. That’s why I do it.”

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