Former NHL player Jimmy Hayes had fentanyl and cocaine in his body when he died suddenly in August at the age of 31.

Hayes, who retired after the 2017-18 season after a seven-year career, died at his home in Milton, Massachusetts, on Aug. 23.

A Massachusetts state medical examiner has ruled his death as accidental from “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl and cocaine,” according to the Boston Globe.

“I was completely shocked,” his widow, Kristen, told the newspaper. “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.”

Hayes’ father, a self-described addict, said he had watched his son’s behavior change about a year and a half ago and immediately suspected pills.

“I said, ‘Jim, I think I see a problem here,’” Kevin Hayes told the Globe. “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.’”

Weeks later, Kevin Hayes said, Jimmy told him that he had started taking painkillers after getting injured and “never got off.”

Hayes was working to get clean when he died, a day after celebrating his 2-year-old son’s birthday.

“He would never want to see me, and the boys, and our family hurting the way we are,’’ Kristen Hayes told the Globe. “I know he would give anything to still be here with us today. I am heartbroken and devastated, but I will choose to remember my husband and the boys’ dad by all the joy and love he brought us, and I hope everyone else does, too.’’

Kevin Hayes said he hopes his son’s story helps destigmatize addiction and convince someone else to get help.

On Friday, hours after the medical examiner released the toxicology report, the New Jersey Devils and the Chicago Blackhawks, two of the teams Hayes played for, warmed up in jerseys sporting his name and number. The Devils played a tribute video during the game.

Hayes is survived by his wife, Kristen, 2-year-old son Beau and infant son Mac.

After helping Boston College win a national championship as a sophomore in 2010, Jimmy enjoyed seven years in the NHL, playing in 334 games with the Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Bruins and the Devils. After getting his NHL start with the Blackhawks in 2011, Jimmy’s childhood dream was fulfilled when he joined the Bruins in 2015. He spent two seasons in Boston before his professional career came to an end with the Devils in 2017-18.

LIGHTNING: Nikita Kucherov will be out indefinitely with a lower-body injury he suffered late in the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions’ overtime win over the Washington Capitals last weekend.

“It’s definitely not a day-to-day thing, so we’ll wait until we get an official word, but he’s definitely out,” Lightning Coach Jon Cooper said after practice Monday. “He’s going to be out for a while here. We’re not going to put a timetable on it until we get an official word. In the short term here he’s definitely out.”

Kucherov missed all of the 2020-21 regular season after undergoing hip surgery in the offseason. He returned in the playoffs to have eight goals and 24 assists to help the Lightning win their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

SHARKS: The NHL suspended San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane for 21 games for submitting a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.

The league announced the suspension without pay and said Kane will not be eligible to play until Nov. 30 at New Jersey. Kane will forfeit about $1.68 million of his $7 million salary for this season with the money going to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

The league also announced that a concurrent investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse made against Kane by his estranged wife, Anna, could not be substantiated.

BLUE JACKETS: Forward Max Domi will miss 2 to 4 weeks with a rib fracture, the team said.

The 26-year-old center was injured in the Blue Jackets’ 2-1 win over Seattle on Saturday. Domi was playing well after recovering from shoulder surgery on June 4.

He already had a goal and two assists as the Blue Jackets won their first two games of the season.


FLYERS 6, KRAKEN 1: Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny scored, Carter Hart stopped 24 shots and the Flyers spoiled former coach Dave Hakstol’s return to Philadelphia.

Joel Farabee, Derick Brassard, Ryan Ellis and Justin Braun also scored for the Flyers.

Carson Soucy scored the first goal in four games for a Kraken defenseman in team history.

Hakstol was hired by the Flyers in 2015 right out of a college job at North Dakota and fired in December 2018 after he went 134-101-42, coaching the third-most games in franchise history behind Fred Shero and Mike Keenan – and the most for the Flyers without winning a playoff series.

RANGERS 2, MAPLE LEAFS 1: Artemi Panarin scored in overtime, Igor Shesterkin stopped 40 shots and New York won at Toronto.

Mika Zibanejad had a goal and an assist for New York (2-1-1), the 100th two-point game of his NHL career.

Michael Bunting scored for Toronto (2-1-1), which got 21 saves from Jack Campbell.

Panarin won it at 3:48 of a frantic, end-to-end extra period off a faceoff in the Maple Leafs’ end. He played a quick give-and-go with Zibanejad before firing a shot past Campbell.

Auston Matthews made his season debut for the Maple Leafs after sitting out Toronto’s first three games as he finished rehabbing following surgery on his left wrist.

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