Hayes at peace with premature end to hockey career - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Hayes at peace with premature end to hockey career

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La Crescent, MN (WXOW) -

At first look it seemed like any other hockey fight.

A closer look though and you understand how a hockey fight on February 16, 2016 ended Eriah Hayes promising hockey career.

"It happened so fast, I really didn't know what happened until I got into the locker room and looked at my face," Hayes said.

"I was like whoa, how did this happen?"

"I guess I had some air leaking into my brain.  They gave me some morphine.  It was pretty scary stuff."

That was just the start.

The effects of a skull fracture, concussion and other injuries lingered.

"All the concussion symptoms were there.  You're emotions are crazy.  You're sitting in the dark all day. I just knew something wasn't right during that time.  It was man, this sucks.  What if I'm not normal again?"

Hayes also experienced double vision for over a year before surgery finally fixed it.

After sitting out a season to recover, Hayes had every intention of returning to pro hockey last year.

His 19 game stint with the NHL's San Jose Sharks serving as motivation

"Patty Marleau makes a pass behind his back and kind of sets me up.  Probably the best feeling in the world.  There's a hall of famer that gets the assist on it.  I don't think it gets better than that," Hayes said.

Little did Hayes know then that would be his one and only goal of his NHL career.

"I get to someday tell my little daughter I scored a goal in the NHL.  It's pretty special.  All the kids in La Crescent get to see me do that or the kids in the Coulee Region.  If I can do it they can too."

But due to the long list and seriousness of his injuries, NHL teams were reluctant to sign him.

So in October of this year, Hayes tweeted out a message calling it quits.

"I was in the car I was coming back from the gym talking to my agent.  He was relaying a message from some team doctors and I was like well, that's it I guess.  It was a pretty emotional moment honestly.  I played hockey my whole life." 

Hayes hockey travels have taken him from coast to coast

But now, he's at home on his land outside of La Crescent and at peace with his career.

Sure, he's has wondered about "what could have been" if not for that fight.

But hold grudge?  Be bitter?  That's not Hayes.

"I got to experience it.  I got to experience my ultimate dream.  So I'm pretty lucky that way."

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