Jimmy Hayes and Brian Flynn returning home for Winter Classic
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — They have similar stories and similar paths to the National Hockey League.
Both Jimmy Hayes (Dorchester, Ma) and Brian Flynn (Lynnfield, Ma) grew up just minutes from Boston. Both went to Hockey East schools as Hayes was an Eagle of Boston College and Flynn was a Black Bear of the University of Maine. Both have played outdoor games at Fenway Park for their respective colleges and now both will play an outdoor game at Gillette Stadium for their respective NHL teams.
Growing up as New England Patriots fans, entering the gates of Gillette Stadium is always a memorable experience for both Hayes and Flynn, but none of their previous experiences will top the one they will face on New Year’s Day for the 2016 NHL Winter Classic.
“Yeah, I’ve been to a couple different concerts here and a couple different Patriots games. I’ve never been here for any of the playoff games because we’ve always been playing, but it’s always a great experience to get out here for the season opener.” Hayes said Wednesday afternoon as he and others met with the media at the home of the four-time Super Bowl champion Patriots for the Winter Classic introductory press conference.
Since being traded from the Florida Panthers to the Bruins, Hayes has answered a lot of questions about how it feels to return home and play in front of his friends and family each night. The Winter Classic only adds to the excitement that has come since learning he was returning home.
“Getting traded here, and then hearing about the Winter Classic, it’s going to be a great moment for me, all my friends are excited for it,” Hayes said. That was one of the first things they mentioned when I got traded. So to be a part of it is going to be awesome.”
Hayes and Flynn will join Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask as the only NHL players to play at Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium. Hayes and Flynn are excited to say they’ve played a hockey game in two stadiums they roamed while growing up in Boston.
“He had a chance to play at Fenway as well and we talked about how cool it is that we get to play at both Fenway and Gillette,” added Hayes who says he remains good friend with Flynn.
“Fenway is another special venue,” Flynn said. “When you walk through the tunnel there and see the green and you realize this is actually happening now it’s a really cool feeling.”
As a huge Patriots fan, the experience of playing in Gillette Stadium is going to be even more sweet.
“It’s awesome, I’m a huge Patriots fan, I try and come to games whenever I’m home or in the off-season here where exhibition games play before training camp starts,” said Flynn. “They’ve had a great run here and kind of getting to stand on the field here you get to feel how big it is and how special this place is.”
Growing up in Boston and now calling Montreal home may be tough at first.
Flynn wouldn’t come out and admit he was a Bruins fan as a kid, but he also wouldn’t deny it.
“I mean they’re the local team growing up. I was able to watch the guys that are here for the Bruins, Cam Neely, Ray Bourque, I mean who is not a fan of watching those guys play hockey?” Flynn added.
All Hayes knows of the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry is from what he saw as a kid on TV growing up in Dorchester, but the power forward can’t wait to get his first taste of the best rivalry in hockey. The BC alum won’t have to wait long to get that first taste though as the Black and Gold host the Canadiens in their second regular season game of 2015-16 on October 10.
His first Bruins-Canadiens moment in a Bruins sweater surely will be a moment he never forgets, but Hayes thinks that it will be a January 1st edition of the rivalry will be a bit more special.
“Yeah, it’s going to be awesome; the chance for me to play against Montreal in a Bruins sweater in this huge stadium and in front of a ton of people, it’s going to be a great moment,” Hayes stated.
Hayes, Flynn and Bruins fans all around the world hope that the Winter Classic is not the only big game played in Foxborough in January as the NFL playoffs begin in the same month.
Just hours after the NFL ruled that Tom Brady’s 4-game suspension for his role in Deflategate had been upheld, Flynn weighed in on his thoughts on Brady and the Patriots.
“I don’t know why they’re giving Brady such a hard time,” Flynn said. “But I think either way whatever happens they’ll be alright, they always find a way to win.”