Blackhawks have their eyes on promising Hayes brothers
By ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org July 7, 2011 8:40PM
Brothers Kevin (left) and Jimmy Hayes | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: October 25, 2011 12:29AM
Winger Jimmy Hayes was the last player from his eight-member group to leave the ice Thursday during the first day of Blackhawks prospect camp at Johnny’s IceHouse West. Instead of meeting the media or hitting the showers, he feverishly skated around cones in the middle of the vacant ice, focusing on the footwork needed to move his 6-5, 233-pound frame.
Standing by the Hawks’ locker room, general manager Stan Bowman and others got a good look at Hayes’ progression, and also that of Hayes’ younger brother, Kevin.
A year ago, the Hawks set out to add more size, so they drafted Kevin Hayes with the 24th overall pick in 2010 and then acquired Jimmy from the Toronto Maple Leafs, who took him with the 60th pick in 2008. Now the Hayes brothers from Boston College are considered a big part of the Hawks’ future.
‘‘Every year you just want to try to show everybody that you’ve improved,’’ Jimmy said of his second camp with the Hawks. ‘‘I’ll try to put myself in the best position and see what happens.”
Unlike many others at prospect camp, Jimmy already has his three-year, entry-level deal. That gives him a spot with the Rockford IceHogs, with whom he had a seven-game stint last season after signing an amateur tryout offer.
But Kevin is hoping for bigger things for his big brother.
‘‘He’s just a physical specimen,’’ Kevin said. ‘‘He’s huge. He lifts the most reps. He kills everyone in the weight room. . . . To me, he’s built like a pro. I’m hoping he makes the team, and I don’t see why he can’t.’’
That may seem like a long shot with the Hawks overflowing with forwards at the moment. But at 21, Jimmy has more seasoning than most prospects and could become the top option to be recalled. He had 21 goals and 33 points for Boston College in his junior season last year before joining the IceHogs, though he was held without a point in his first seven games in the American Hockey League.
‘‘It’s different seeing a lot of guys my size out there,’’ said Jimmy, who was a linemate of Ben Smith at Boston College and also roomed with Smith on the IceHogs. ‘‘In school, I was one of the bigger guys. It’s a different game. It’s more controlled. Everybody is good. It was just a great way to end my year getting those seven games.’’
That’s why he’s set on improving his skating.
‘‘I’ve been working on it,’’ said Jimmy, who has trained with Hawks skating coach Paul Vincent. ‘‘It’s just a thing I need to improve on.’’
Meanwhile, it’s Kevin — 19 years old and 6-3, 205 pounds — who may have the most potential. His freshman season at BC was shortened after he tore his posterior cruciate ligament and missed five weeks, but he finished with four goals and 14 points in 31 games.
Bowman recently said Kevin, who was drafted as a winger, was just behind Marcus Kruger and Brandon Pirri on the center depth chart after playing primarily in the middle his freshman year.
‘‘Center is what I’m hoping to be,’’ Kevin said.
The Hawks have yet to approach him about heading to Rockford, so he’s committed to going back to Boston College and rooting for Jimmy.
“Hopefully when they decide to sign me, he’ll be praying for me to make the team as well,’’ Kevin said.