Jimmy Hayes watched his Rockford teammates get their chances with the Chicago Blackhawks this season. Now he gets his turn, and hes getting it on a big stage.
The rookie Hayes will make his NHL debut Friday night when the Blackhawks host the rival Detroit Red Wings at the United Center. Its a big debut for sure, but Hayes has been chomping at the bit for this.
It was a dream come true. Its what Ive worked for my whole life and it was a great phone call to get, said Hayes, who was called up while fellow IceHogs forward Brandon Pirri was sent back to Rockford. I just have to get a chance. Those guys did a great job, but Im just happy to get a chance and see what I can do with it.
The 6-foot-6, 221-pound forward, who practiced on the fourth line with Jamal Mayers and Andrew Brunette on Thursday, will certainly add some size to the Blackhawks roster. Hayes has 18 points with the IceHogs this season, and his skating continues to improve with experience.
I like his size, hes got a good set of hands and he has some quickness to his game, said coach Joel Quenneville. Were putting him in to a pretty big setting. He has quickness to his stride, has movement in tight areas and some jump in his step. Were going to need that tomorrow night. Were going to have a quick team in here.
If Hayes is feeling overwhelmed by his first start, he can certainly look to family for advice. Former NHLers Keith Tkachuck and Tom Fitzgerald are his cousins. Hayes said he was planning on talking to them later today.
They both have good advice, both been through it, he said. Hopefully we can keep it going.