The Blackhawks are hosting their prospects throughout the organization between Thursday and Monday at Johnny’s IceHouse West on Madison St. There will be practices and scrimmages, all open to the public.
If there are any marquee names at this summer’s prospect’s camp then forwards Kevin and Jimmy Hayes are it. The two Bostonians are attending their second camp together after Kevin was drafted in the first round in 2010 while his older brother Jimmy was acquired from Toronto the next day, where he was drafted in the second round in 2008.
Jimmy turned pro late last year after producing 21 goals and 12 assists at Boston College and then played seven games with Rockford at the end of the season. He says he’s ready for an NHL career.
“I set goals at the beginning of the year, and I achieved most of them,” he said. “We decided it was time for me to move on. It was the best thing for my career. It was a big decision, and I think I made the right one.”
Anyone attending the prospects camp this weekend won’t miss the older Hayes. At 6-foot-5, 233 pounds, his size is his obvious strength. But he’s moving better for a big man than he did a year ago at this time.
That’s a key.
“I’ve been working on [skating] all year,” Jimmy said. “The coaching staff at school has been great.”
Kevin plans on returning to Boston College for his sophomore season after missing part of the year with a PCL [posterior cruciate ligament] injury, but he’s hopeful the elder Hayes is in Chicago, not Rockford.
“He’s a physical specimen,” Kevin said. “He’s huge. He kills everyone in the weight room. He’s built like a pro, and I’m hoping he makes the team. I don’t see any reason why he can’t.”
The reason he can’t is the same for every prospect: the numbers. The Hawks are loaded with veterans and several young players ahead of any prospects at this summer’s camp, including former BC Eagle Ben Smith.
“It was pretty cool watching Ben play,” Jimmy said. “I was his line-mate the year before. It’s great watching a guy you played with and see him do it.”
It also provides motivation for both Hayes kids because it proves it doesn’t have to take years to make it to the NHL. Injuries and unpredictable performances allow for opportunities, even if it doesn’t happen in October.
“We’ll see what happens,” Jimmy said. “I’ll try to get my game to the highest level and hopefully give a shot at making the team. We’ll see what happens.”
Kevin and Jimmy watched the Hawks in the playoffs with plenty of interest, but as soon as they were knocked out, their attention turned to their hometown team.
“I didn’t have my Bruins hat on, but being a Boston guy I was pulling for them there,” Jimmy said. “It was pretty cool seeing the Bruins win the Stanley Cup.”