Hometown hero Hayes honors friend’s memory with new Bruins jersey number

Jimmy Hayes will honor the memory of a friend with jersey No. 11.

Sergei Belski/Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Trades can sometimes be tough for players to swallow, but in the case of new Bruins acquisition Jimmy Hayes, his recent trade from the Florida Panthers back to his native Boston was a dream come true. 

Hayes is Boston through-and-through. He grew up in Dorchester, a close-knit neighborhood in Boston, and he played his college hockey at Boston College. He spent five NHL seasons with the Blackhawks and Panthers before he came back home on July 1 when the Bruins traded Reilly Smith along with Marc Savard’s contract to Florida in exchange for the 25-year-old.

"I’ve probably played more games in this city than any other in my whole career,” Hayes told reporters when he was introduced to the Boston media. “I don’t think it’s pressure. I think I can handle it. It’s going to be a great opportunity for (me to) be able to wear a jersey I’ve dreamed of wearing."

The jersey will hold a special meaning for Hayes, as the team announced Hayes will wear No. 11 to honor the memory of his friend, Corey Griffin, who died last summer. Griffin was a co-founder of the ALS ice bucket challenge and, like Hayes, was a Boston College alum. 

"I’ve never worn 11 – so it’s a special number for me,” Hayes told BostonBruins.com. “Our other great friend, Brian Boyle, who plays down in Tampa, he [changed his number to] 11 – so, it’s just – Corey’s always with us.

"I’ll be able to wear 11 every night, he’ll be with me every night, so it’s just a huge honor for me to be able to wear it."

Hayes will also have the support of his community with him for every game in Boston, as proud members of the Dorchester community told Dorchester’s local newspaper, the Dorchester Reporter, that Hayes’ homecoming was long-awaited. Hayes’ first NHL jersey from when he made his professional debut with the Blackhawks hangs on the wall of Dorchester’s Eire Pub. John Stenson, the pub’s owner, spoke for the community when he sang the trade’s praises. 

"I love it," Stenson told the Reporter. "The whole neighborhood loves it. Jimmy has been away for a while now."