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Pens add Hainsey to help D corps

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

 Another day, another blow to the Pens' blue line. 

The Pens announced Thursday morning that blueliner Trevor Daley underwent knee surgery, performed by head team physician Dr. Dharmesh Vyas. The procedure will keep Daley out of the lineup for about six weeks.

The team has already lost Olli Maatta, who had hand surgery on Feb. 17, for six weeks. Meaning the Pens are without two of their best defensemen until April at the earliest.

Now throw in Justin Schultz, who is recovering from a concussion, and Kris Letang's day-to-day injury and the Pittsburgh blue line is rather thin.

So general manager Jim Rutherford reached out to a familiar protégé - Carolina GM Ron Francis - to pick up a familiar name - Ron Hainsey, whom Rutherford had signed four years ago while he was the Hurricanes GM. 

"He's a real character guy. He'll fit into our room well," Rutherford said. "He's a good penalty killer. That's an area we'd like to improve. He can skate, move the puck and should be able to fit in with our system."

Hainsey, who was acquired in exchange for a 2017 second-round draft pick and minor-league forward Danny Kristo, has played in 891 career NHL games in his career with Montreal, Winnipeg/Atlanta, Columbus and Carolina.

"He's played a lot of games in the league. He's a veteran guy that brings a certain perspective," Sullivan said. "We really like our locker room. We think we have good people in here. … We think Ron will fit right into that group." 

Hainsey, who is in the final year of his contract, is 6-foot-3, 210 pounds with a long reach. The left-handed shooter is highly mobile with a solid first-pass.

"We think he plays a style of play that can fit into our group," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "We think he brings a skill-set that is complimentary to some of the guys that we have. He brings a lot to the table. We think he's going to make us a better team."

Hainsey, 35, also feels like his style of play and physical ability will also compliment the way the Pens like to play hockey.

"My focus will be getting back on pucks and getting them to these forwards cleanly and as quick as possible so they can get moving up the ice with speed," Hainsey said. "That's the name of the game."

Hainsey flew to Pittsburgh this afternoon and will join the team for practice on Friday. He is excited about the prospect of not only joining the Pens, but also the possibility of making his NHL postseason debut.

"When I got the news this morning and told where I was headed, as far as a team, a team that expects to win another Stanley Cup, it's exciting to be a part of," Hainsey said. "I'm excited for this entire opportunity. It's not just about the playoff games, but about this group coming together over a month and a half and going on a run toward another Stanley Cup. That's the focus, that's the goal and that's where all of my energy is going to be."

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