Tracking the Storm

Canes Turn to Hainsey

Thursday, 09.12.2013 / 7:30 PM ET / 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.”



SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72