-- Steady and unspectacular, but highly efficient would be one way to describe Scott Hannan
and Kyle Quincey
, who log more ice time than any other Colorado Avalanche
Not coincidentally, they have been paired together for most of the season -- Quincey's even lived in Hannan's house for a while -- and they drive to the practice rink and Pepsi Center together.
"You get to know a guy a lot better when you're living with him every day, driving with him every day, going to lunch," Hannan told NHL.com. "It's been a good fit."
Hannan, 31, is in the third year of a four-year, $18 million contract he signed as a free agent following the 2006-07 season, which was his eighth with the San Jose Sharks
Quincey, 24, was acquired from Los Angeles, along with defenseman Tom Preissing
and a 2010 fifth-round draft pick, in a trade that sent forward Ryan Smyth
to the Kings on July 3, 2009.
"'Hanner' and I feed off each other. He's like a rock back there. He gives me confidence to jump up into the rush when I can and make plays. If I make a mistake, he's there to back me up."
-- Kyle Quincey, on playing with Scott Hannan
A disappointment his first two years in Colorado, Hannan is enjoying one of the best seasons of his NHL career averaging 22:28 in ice time, second among Avalanche defensemen to Quincey's 24:22.
Being paired with Quincey, Hannan said, has been a big help.
"We read off each other well," Hannan said. "He's playing great. He reads the ice really well and he jumps into the play and he's got a big shot. With us, (creating some chemistry) kind of happened pretty quickly. I'm the type of defenseman that kind of hangs back a little bit more, and that allows him to jump into the play."
With 2 goals and 12 assists in 61 games, the 6-foot-1, 225-pounder has eclipsed last season's totals (1 goal, 9 assists) he registered in 81 games. More important, the defensive-minded Hannan owns a plus-7 rating, a huge improvement from his minus-21 last season. He also is playing a more physical game with 32 penalty minutes, six more than he compiled all last year.
It didn't take long for Quincey to endear himself to first-year coach Joe Sacco. The Kitchener, Ontario, native produced 8 points (2 goals, 6 assists) in the Avalanche's first nine games while logging between 22 and 28 minutes. He has been a major contributor in the team's rise from the Western Conference ashes.
"I think he is a complete player," Sacco said. "He has the ability to make plays. He has poise with the puck and he's looking to make plays out there. We need him to do that."
Quincey thought he had found a home in Los Angeles last season after leading all Kings defensemen with 4 goals and 34 assists in 72 games.
"I thought they were happy with me," he said. "I loved it there. But I knew they needed a left winger, a scorer. They addressed it all year and at the end of the year in meetings they said they were going to go and get one. I didn't think they were going to trade me, but at the end of the day it was a huge compliment to get traded here for Ryan Smyth
First-year Avalanche General Manager Greg Sherman made the deal because the team was in a rebuilding mode after finishing in the conference cellar last season. He wanted a younger roster and needed to inject some youth into a defense corps that was getting long in the tooth with Adam Foote
, 38, Ruslan Salei
, 35, Brett Clark
, 33, and Hannan.
"It was a hard situation because I didn't really know what to expect in Colorado," Quincey said. "I'd never really been here and I was finally getting comfortable in L.A. But it worked out for the best and I couldn't be happier. Any time you get traded, especially for a player like that … obviously Colorado liked me. I'm getting a great opportunity."
Quincey has been everything the Avalanche hoped with 5 goals, 20 assists, a plus-7 rating and 57 penalty minutes in 61 games. He's also been quite a bargain with a $525,000 salary that is certain to rise when he becomes a restricted free agent after the season.
"I'm just running with the opportunity, doing whatever the coach asks me to do," Quincey said. "I love coming to the rink every day. Hopefully I can stay here a long time and help this organization.
"Hanner and I feed off each other. He's like a rock back there. He gives me confidence to jump up into the rush when I can and make plays. If I make a mistake, he's there to back me up."
Hannan helped make Quincey's transition to a new city a smoother one by inviting him to live in his home while the Avalanche played 11 of its first 15 games, and 21 of the first 32 contests, on the road.
"He needed a place to crash for a little while," said Hannan, whose wife Kristina recently gave birth to the couple's first child. "We had extra room in our house and it worked out well. Plus, I got a ride to the rink every day. We did some cooking for him, making sure he was getting some good meals."
Said Quincey: "He's my partner, but I also call him my old man. We're like brothers. It's good. We're having a lot of fun."