We all know that professional athletes can have a target on their back. There’s heckling from the stands, strangers come up to you in the streets, you’re more recognizable. Professional hockey players who handle the spotlight well often keep themselves out of trouble or from looking stupid.
Former Boston Bruin and 2-time Stanley Cup Champion Shawn Thornton recently spoke at his Putts & Punches charity event in Boston and was asked if he had any advice for new Bruin, Jimmy Hayes. He touched on that very topic of being a recognizable public figure in a hockey crazed town like Boston:
“Stay out of the bar. You can’t hide here. Don’t be dancing on tables with your shirt off and bottles of vodka in your hand, like somebody else,” Thornton said. It was straight shooting advice for Jimmy Hayes from a humble hardworking NHL veteran who has reached the ultimate goal and captured the respect of every Bruins fan still to this day.
Jimmy Hayes is walking into fantasy land to some extent. He won an NCAA National Championship at Boston College. He’s from Dorchester, MA. And he’s got plenty of cheddar in his pocket after inking a new deal with his native Boston Bruins. It is absolutely a dream situation for a local kid. But he’s got to seize the on-ice opportunity and avoiding being Norm Peterson from Cheers off ice. When you’re winning a Stanley Cup and pictures of the celebration hit the internet it’s not going to do damage to a great extent because the fans are elated. But when you “come home” like Jimmy has fan expectations are high, old faces want to hang out, you’re a significant public figure. With the Florida Panthers, Hayes old team, no one recognizes you without your jersey on. So it’s best to avoid the bad photo op in the bar back home if Lord Stanley isn’t in the picture with you.
So listen to Thornton. Stay out of the bars, Jimmy. Unless you want to take me then I’m getting the first round.