Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Uncharted Territory Hainsey Joins Penguins, Eyes Playoff Debut

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Uncharted Territory Hainsey Joins Penguins, Eyes Playoff Debut

Article excerpt

Ron Hainsey didn't see his daughter, Alexa, before she left for school Thursday morning. So, when Hainsey learned he had been traded and would be in a new city within hours, he wanted to stop and see Alexa before he drove to the airport.

Not that dad's about to complain.

Not even close given what the trade Thursday meant for the 35-year-old, stay-at-home defenseman.

Despite an NHL resume that includes 891 games, Hainsey never has appeared in the Stanley Cup playoffs, a torturous record that, barring something catastrophic, will be history in about six weeks.

"If you could pick a place, this would be the place," Hainsey said before boarding his flight north. "The group that they have coming off last year, there's a lot of excitement when you hear you're going to Pittsburgh."

Which might sound a bit strange given the recent run of bad luck the Penguins have had on their blue line.

As news was breaking Thursday morning that Hainsey had been traded from Carolina for a second-round draft pick in 2017 and minor league forward Danny Kristo, the team announced Trevor Daley would miss six weeks because of arthroscopic surgery on his left knee

This, of course, after Olli Maatta was lost for six weeks with a broken hand last Wednesday.

Hopefully, nobody told poor Hainsey that Justin Schultz is returning from a concussion and Kris Letang is now on injury No. 4 this season.

Nevertheless, there's likely little that could diminish Hainsey's excitement.

"Not having a great opportunity like this for so long, it's something to get pretty excited about," Hainsey said.

In Hainsey, the Penguins get a 6-foot-3, 210-pound left-handed shot who will be among the bigger bodies on their back end. Also, if his league-wide reputation serves, one the most likable. His 79 hits led Hurricanes defensemen, and his 92 blocked shots ranked third.

Hainsey's also proven to be durable; he's 56 for 56 in games played so far this season, with decent enough offensive production - four goals and 14 points.

Previous stops on his NHL resume include Montreal, Columbus, Atlanta and Winnipeg before winding up in Raleigh, N.C.

"We know he's a mobile guy who has good size who has a long reach," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He defends well. We think he makes a good first pass. He can help us get out of our end zone. We think he plays a style that can fit into our group. We think that he brings a skill set that's complementary to some of the guys we have.

"He can kill penalties for us. I think he can take a load off some of our players in that regard. He brings a lot to the table. We think he's going to make us a better team."

Hainsey averaged 22:20 of ice time in Carolina, with 3:03 of that coming short-handed. After learning of the trade and doing some preliminary research on his new team, Hainsey is eager to help out on the penalty kill. …

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