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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Canes Turn to Hainsey

Thursday, 09.12.2013 / 7:30 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Canes Turn to Hainsey
When the Carolina Hurricanes announced Wednesday that Joni Pitkanen would miss the 2013-14 season while he continues to recover from a broken heel bone, many wondered how the team would ease the loss of a veteran defenseman who regularly logged 22 minutes a game.

Michael Smith
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The Canes answered that question Thursday, signing Ron Hainsey to a one-year, $2 million contract.

“I’m very excited,” Hainsey said in a phone interview. “We’ve been talking since July 5, and this was my number one choice that I’d hoped would work out.”

Narrowing down his ideal targets, Hainsey said his number one priority was to find a team that he felt had a chance to win. The Canes fit that mold.

“You look at this team, and the players are certainly in place for us to do that,” he said.

In Hainsey, the Canes get a reliable, 32-year-old blue-liner who is a veteran of 10 seasons in the NHL. Hainsey has recorded 192 points (34g, 158a) in 591 games and has averaged more than 22 minutes of ice time per game in five of his last seven seasons.

A member of the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise for the last five years, Hainsey has led his team in blocked shots in three of the last four seasons (ranked second in the other). Over that stretch, he has averaged over 144 blocked shots in a season, and, at well over 2.5 blocked shots per game in 2012-13, he was on pace to record over 214 blocks in an 82-game campaign.

“A lot of that comes off the penalty kill,” he said. “You’re going to block shots five-on-five, too, but my role on the penalty kill increased over the last three years.”

The Canes also get an old fan of the Hartford Whalers, as Hainsey grew up in Bolton, Connecticut, a small town due east of Hartford.

“My family had season tickets growing up, so I went to a ton of games,” he said.

American-born defensemen now account for two-thirds of the Canes’ expected opening night top six, as Hainsey joins Tim Gleason, Justin Faulk and Mike Komisarek, two of whom are somewhat familiar faces.

Hainsey said he and Komisarek played for the same teams a few times growing up in the Northeast; the two were also Montreal’s top draft picks in 2000 and 2001, as Hainsey was selected 13th overall in 2000 and Komisarek seventh the following year. Hainsey has skated with Gleason in international competition, including the World Junior Championship in the early 2000’s and also got to know Kevin Westgarth “quite a bit” during last year’s work stoppage, as both played a hands-on role with the Players Association.

Not to mention, he’s regularly faced the Hurricanes playing in the now-defunct Southeast Division.

“Playing against these guys six times a year for five years, you get to know some guys on the ice, too,” he said.

Now, Hainsey joins the Hurricanes. Making the southbound trek from Connecticut to Raleigh on Friday, he said he’ll skate with the team Saturday.

“[I’m looking forward to] just getting out there, getting together with my new teammates and getting ready for the season,” he said. “I think there’s a lot to be excited about with this group.”



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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 64 41 18 5 172 142 87
2 NYR 63 39 17 7 197 155 85
3 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 62 36 15 11 182 160 83
6 PIT 63 36 18 9 182 158 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 OTT 62 28 23 11 176 167 67
11 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61