DORCHESTER –Bruins general manager Don Sweeney spoke last weekend of the need for big winger Jimmy Hayes to step up next season if Loui Eriksson should indeed depart via free agency.
“I think Jimmy had a pretty good start to the year, but he really tailed off when the team needed him most. He should take some responsibility for that,” said Sweeney. “We had a pretty frank discussion about that to challenge him to take his game to another level, and be able to help out a younger player. He played a lot with Ryan Spooner.
“I have to put ownership on Jimmy in terms of saying ‘Hey, I have to take more responsibility. It’s not just about finishing and scoring goals.’ He has the capacity to do that. He gets power play time and net-front time, and he needs to get to the hard areas of the ice with more consistency. It’s an area that he needs to continue to improve upon. We as an organization feel that we need to have players that are driven to get better.”
Hayes heard that loud and clear just as he received the same message during exit interviews with the Bruins back in April, and knows that he needs to simply put more into next season.
Hayes’ numbers dropped from the previous season with the Florida Panthers, and he finished with 13 goals, 29 points and a minus-12 while going through long stretches where he completely disappeared on the ice. That’s a difficult thing for a 6-foot-6 forward to do, but Hayes managed while going weeks at a time without scoring and failing to play the big man’s game around the net on most nights.
The 26-year-old Hayes knows that needs to change for both his personal benefit and for the well-being of the Black and Gold this upcoming season.
“It’s definitely something that’s going to motivate me beyond just already motivating myself [this summer]. We had our own discussions [during exit interviews], and I know I’ve got to bounce back and have a strong season,” said Hayes. “I need to make sure I help my team win, and that’s what it’s all about. I want to be consistent and available every night to try get two points for our team, and get us as an organization back where we want to be.
“We just talked about how the season went, and we were really up-front with each other. We just want to continue to get better and more consistent, and get better through the season rather than have these spurts where you’re putting up numbers. And if you’re not scoring then you’ve got to find other ways to help the team win, and get to those areas where you’re going to get rewarded for going to those hard areas on a consistent basis.”
This isn’t the first time that Hayes has said all the right things about turning around his game, and really, truly living up to the hope he could be a big-bodied factor down low for the Black and Gold tipping, redirecting, screening and shoveling home rebounded pucks from areas all around the front of the net.