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Hurricanes sign Hainsey to ease Pitkanen loss

Thursday, 09.12.2013 / 4:48 PM / NHL Free Agency 2013

By Kurt Dusterberg - NHL.com Correspondent

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Hurricanes sign Hainsey to ease Pitkanen loss
Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford announced on Thursday the team has agreed to terms on a one-year, $2 million contract with free agent defenseman Ron Hainsey.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- After finishing last season in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, the Carolina Hurricanes anticipated an uphill climb to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It became a more difficult task earlier this week when the team announced defenseman Joni Pitkanen is out for the entire upcoming season.

So the Hurricanes struck quickly Thursday, signing free agent defenseman Ron Hainsey to a one-year, $2 million contract. Hainsey finished last season with no goals and 13 assists for the Winnipeg Jets.

"Hainsey was a guy we liked coming into free agency and we wanted him to come here," Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford said. "We were trying to make it work, so we are thankful for him being patient."

For the Hurricanes, the issue was freeing a roster spot. After acquiring Andrej Sekera in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres and signing free agent Mike Komisarek, Carolina had hoped to make a trade that would allow them to sign Hainsey, but nothing panned out. The Pitkanen injury provided that roster spot.

"We just weren't in a position to do that," Rutherford said. "Essentially, we ended up trading a guy to injury."

Though Hainsey is not likely to replace Pitkanen's offensive savvy, each player averaged more than 22 minutes per game last season. Now with three veteran newcomers on the blue line, Carolina will have more flexibility on a nightly basis.

"He's a veteran who has logged between 20 and 22 minutes a night over his career, so he's capable of playing more than 20," Rutherford said of Hainsey. "We're going to be better balanced defensively, so we don't have to have the same two guys logging the most minutes each game. At the same time, it doesn't exclude our young guys like [Brett] Bellemore and [Ryan] Murphy. It just relieves some of the pressure that we were able to get a veteran guy."

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I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride. I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers organizations and owners for providing me the opportunity to play the sport I love for so many years. I could have never played for so long or accomplished all that I have without the unwavering love and support from my wife, Heather, our three sons, Ryan, Lucas, and Mason, and my parents.

— Martin St. Louis after announcing his retirement from the NHL on Thursday