Generally, when a player comes to a new team, they only switch their jersey number for one of a few reasons: it’s a number they had wanted previously but couldn’t wear, someone on the new club is wearing their favorite sweater number or there’s a retired jersey preventing the number from being worn.
The reason for newly acquired Boston Bruin Jimmy Hayes is entirely different.
For the past two seasons in Florida, Hayes has proudly worn the No. 12, but his new start in Boston is going to see him don a new number and he’ll do so proudly, knowing he’s paying tribute to a lost friend.
Hayes and the Bruins announced Wednesday that he will wear No. 11 in 2015-16 to honor the life of Corey Griffin, a friend of Hayes’ who passed away last summer.
“He had been a huge part of my family and his family - we go back to youth hockey days,” Hayes told BostonBruins.com’s Caryn Switaj. “And he was a huge ambassador of this community as well. He was very influential in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, honoring Pete Frates. So he’s just the type of kid that - you know, he would walk in with a smile on, brighten up everybody’s day.
“Just to be able to wear No. 11, the number he wore in high school and throughout his hockey career, is an honor for me to wear this number.”
It’s evident that Griffin made no small impact on Hayes’ life, and the life of others, either, as Hayes isn’t the only NHL player with No. 11 on their jersey in honor of Griffin.
“Our other great friend, Brian Boyle, who plays down in Tampa, he wears 11, so Corey’s always with us,” Hayes said.
During the post-season, Sportsnet’s Stephen Brunt sat down with Boyle, who said, “It’s special to me. It’s the only way I know, right now, of trying to honor (Griffin).”
Griffin, Hayes and Boyle all played NCAA hockey for the Boston College Eagles.
“I’ll be able to wear 11 every night,” Hayes said. “(Griffin) will be with me every night, so it’s just a huge honor for me to be able to wear it.”