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Lightning 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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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 41 15 13 -8 28
J. Faulk 46 8 18 -14 26
J. Skinner 41 10 9 -7 19
E. Lindholm 46 9 10 -10 19
R. Nash 46 7 12 -4 19
J. Tlusty 39 11 7 -12 18
N. Gerbe 42 4 13 -2 17
V. Rask 46 6 9 -9 15
A. Sekera 44 1 14 -8 15
C. Terry 33 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 5 8 2 .916 2.32
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45