Five Questions With … Ron Hainsey

Defenseman Ron Hainsey finished his third season with the Thrashers with a plus-3 rating, second among full-season players. He had three goals and 16 assists, which included a seven-game stretch with two game-winning goals and a game-winning assist. Hainsey’s point production increased over the second half of the season with two goals and 11 assist in the final 31 games. He was one of three Thrashers to play all 82 games.

In the next of a series of interviews with Thrashers players following the 2010-11 season, here is some of what Hainsey had to say about what went wrong, what needs to be fixed and his improved play.

Q. In your mind, what went wrong this season?

A. The critical stretch was February where we played some of our best hockey and got some of our worst results. We played at Phoenix (lost 4-3), Edmonton (lost 5-3) and Buffalo (lost 4-1). Buffalo and us were really close. We had [the first] two games where we had the lead and gave it away … and then lost the Buffalo game and from there we just couldn’t get it back to a position where we were in a [playoff] spot. It’s disappointing. From where we were 35 games in we should have been there. But we aren’t and we have to figure out why and fix it.

Q. What would you say, going forward, needs to be fixed?

A. More consistency. We did not play well in January and we probably got a few more wins out of January than we earned. Then we played well that Washington game, 1-0 before the all-star break, so we finished that month good. Even the last week of December wasn’t very good. Then we got right back on it in February, but just didn’t get the results. So, you have to examine those games and see what we did. It seemed like it was something different. Whether it was penalties at the wrong time, there are a bunch of different things. If we can stay more consistent and don’t have a month where we don’t play well, six weeks where you have to bring it back, would help a lot.

Q. How about your season personally? You were the only defenseman, here all season, with a plus rating.

A. I’ve been plus-13. I’ve been minus-15. I think I’ve had better years as a minus than I have as a plus. It’s such a team stat. In certain cases it can be an accurate reflection. In other cases it’s not. It’s a team stat and this year I came out on the plus side. I’ve come out on the other end too. I guess it’s one nice thing to look at.

Q. I talked to coach Ramsay a few weeks back and he said you were better with your stick this season and, lately, better at the blue line and not playing so safe. That had a direct result with your increased point production. Do you feel that’s true? Did it take awhile to get to that point?

A. Yes. There were adjustments that had to be made in my game that I probably wasn’t as fast doing as we would have liked. The offensive side was pretty slow the first half. It picked up. It’s the old, if you get more time, you get more results. There is no such thing as a coach who thinks a player is going to score a lot of goals and doesn’t put him out there. There is no such thing, even though players sometimes think it does. I showed a little bit the end of January, beginning of February and made some good plays like the overtime goal. You get confidence. The coach gets confidence and you can start to roll. The biggest thing you have to realize is the coach wants guys out there who can make plays and make big plays. You have to show it to get out there. It was a slow first half offensively. It was a better second half. Hopefully it will be more of the second half starting next year.

Q. Was that 8-2 loss to Buffalo [on March 19] the unofficial end of the season?

A. It wasn’t good. We would have either been two [points] back for six back. It’s hard to make up points, especially when you have 10 games left. If you want to make up four points if they other team goes 7-3 you have to go 9-1 to tie them. It’s harder to make up even four points, especially if the other team plays well. It was a big game. They scored 24 seconds in and that’s never a good sign. We got off to a poor start and got behind the eight ball and could never come back. When it’s the team you are chasing, it’s definitely not good.

I think we were alright after that. We played some good games. When you fall behind six points after that game and that’s a lot of points in a short amount of time.

The series will continue over the next couple of weeks. Coming Tuesday, Jim Slater.

14 comments Add your comment

surgeobanana

April 25th, 2011
8:21 am

Another contract that has been a stone for the Thrashers. I have neither good or bad things to say about Hainsey. Or maybe, he gets the job done but can not hit the net at all with a shot for the past several years. There are 10 other Ron Hainsey’s out there without the burden of being over priced. A little too late though.

Michael B. Shapiro

April 25th, 2011
9:05 am

Banana, I disagree. This was Hainsey’s best year as a Thrash by far. He played (for the most part) with his head up. Better vision of the ice, smarter plays. Like all the Thrash, he had some bone-head plays, but his numbers show it and his confidence was on the uptick when everyone else’s was riding the roller-coaster the other way. I think his contract is “generous” but if he continues to build on this year’s play, we could see even better things next year. He needs to help us hold the blue line when the other team tries to enter our zone, use his big body to hit (Coach, can you hear me? yes, hitting is part of NHL hockey!), and perhaps we’ll keep our team in Atlanta and have something approximating professional hockey next season.

litz

April 25th, 2011
9:46 am

People rag on Hainsey all the time … but you have to realize …

Those breakaways, or exciting offensive plays? Often, they start with Hainsey breaking up a play.

The guy is very quietly right in the middle of *everything*, and people often never even notice.

Sam

April 25th, 2011
10:17 am

Hainsey had his best season as a Thrasher, IMO. But its all relative. This is 3 seasons into a multi-year, $4 million a year contract.

Appreciated Ron’s play with Sopel on the 3rd line in the first half. Less minutes, solid defensively and no detectable attitude. Would really like to see some uppper body strength on Hainsey. He’s a tall guy with virtually no effective physical game. Hard to believe he followed any kind of off-ice workouts in any off-season, nevermind during this season. Woud be interesting to know how Ramsay felt about that, and how much emphasis he places on the off-ice work. I get the feeling its a lot.

Midfield

April 25th, 2011
11:12 am

Agree with Sam. Hainsey benefited from Ramsay’s coaching the most. It’s like playing within the system helps him compensate for his softness. But he’s still overpaid for what he’s worth. Sorry, Ron.

KLS1

April 25th, 2011
2:08 pm

It doesn’t matter what he is paid because we are so far below the cap. Ron is ok, needs a steady partner and to get more consistent at moving people out of the front of the net.

Other than that, I think he is he is a good defenseman.

Cornbread

April 25th, 2011
2:40 pm

I think you have to look at Hainsey’s new role with the team when you look at his point production. 1. He saw a decrease in overall ice time by about 4 minutes a game. 2. He saw hardly any PP time. 3. He was playing as the 5th man for most of the season.

That new defencive role and less of an offensive guy contributed to his +/- and team leading shot blocks. He has always been a good shot blocker – something he does not get much credit for.

He’s still a good two way skater and moves the puck very well. He was the teams best penalty killing D-man and I wish that role would have increased especially over Oduya when Sopel left. He also had one of the team’s best Goals Against Per Game Averages, having been on the ice just 67 times in 82 games when the opposition scored.

I like what Hainsey is bringing as a 4th or 5th guy. I think he can still get points while focusing more on the D side since the Thrashers already have another 4 guys who are two-way D-men and 2 of those are offense oriented and 1 completely so.

Puck Like A Porn Star

April 25th, 2011
2:47 pm

One Question With Tom Glavine:

Are you, Smoltz, and Chipper making that big Thrashers announcement Tuesday, or Wednesday?

goose

April 25th, 2011
3:59 pm

Remember that the reason that Hainsey is overpaid is because we needed his large contract to meet the cap floor at the time.

East Point Bob

April 25th, 2011
5:48 pm

Hainsey has not been that bad for Atlanta, there are much more serious problems on defense, namely number #4.

Allowed 6 goals on 6 shots

April 25th, 2011
9:02 pm

Hainsey may be the most overpaid, over rated player in any sport in any league. There…I said it. Elephant in the room shot.

lordstan57

April 26th, 2011
3:27 am

No mention of how many times he “tipped it’ into his own net??
Or screened his own net-minder??

I think many times his ‘blocked’ shots were by accident…. as many times he gave a half-hearted effort to get in front.
He reminds me of some of our early year D-men…. it’s not a puck…it’s a ‘hot potato!’
Let me get rid of this thing just as damn quick as I can!! blindly or no!

Nahhh, I wouldn’t miss him….. not to say he’s all bad….just mediocre.
His game doesn’t justify his arrogance.

GO “ATLANTA” THRASHERS!!

Yuvno Ballzerdik

April 26th, 2011
5:25 am

Hainsey deserves every bit of criticism he receives. He has been terrible for the most part during his tenure here and an even more terrible bloated contract that can’t be moved. Hanisey is the poster child for typical “thrasher effort” which includes lackluster and non committed play..something Rammer scolded Hainsey on in preseason if I remember correctly. Hainsey wasn’t able to hustle and was pulled aside. I am also pretty sure when players harp about lack of effort and mention it’s not just applied to young players, the “veterans” they are talking about obviously include Ron Hainsey.

Brendan

April 26th, 2011
12:37 pm

It’s true that Ron Hainsey’s contract helps the Thrashers attempt to reach the floor of the salary cap. Ron Hainsey isn’t Gawd aweful. He isn’t great, either. Yes, he’s overpaid, but he does provide a role and service to this team. I’m happy he wound up a being a + player this year. Hainsey showed some improvement this season. At the end of the day, that’s what we hope for.

We cannot undo his contract. That ship has sailed. Then GM Don Waddell tried, as hard as he could, to land Brian Campbell. He didn’t want to walk away ‘empty-handed’ during the ‘Frenzy,’ so he picked up Ron Hainsey, at UFA pricing, 2008-style. That’s better than nothing. It’s better than an AHL call-up. Ron Hainsey strikes me as a straight shooter, with a lot of personality. He doesn’t surgarcoat things, which is what I like about him. I don’t do ’sugarcoating’ either.

Re: Moving his contract. I do think it’s possible to package Hainsey’s contract, in a multi-player deal. But, if you’re Atlanta, you need the $4.5 million to get you ever closer to the floor of the cap. By the way, how is it that Atlanta wasn’t punished by the NHL for violating the terms of the CBA by being under the cap? Did they file for some ’special exemption,’ that got approved and hushed-up by the league? If teams can’t go over the cap, then they shouldn’t be able to be under the cap, either.