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.