Penguins

Who wore it best: No. 65, Ron Hainsey

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Welcome to our series on who wore each number best for the Penguins.

The idea is being openly borrowed from our new hockey writer, Cody Tucker, and his project at the Lansing State Journal covering all the uniform numbers worn through Michigan State football history, one that’s been well received by their readers and prompted heavy discussion and debate.

Under my organization, and following the voting of a big chunk of our staff, we’ll publish one new one each day until completion, which should be right around the start of training camp.

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Name: Ron Hainsey
Number: 65
Position: Defenseman
Born: March 24, 1981 in Bolton, Conn.
Seasons with Penguins: 2017
Statistics with Penguins: 16 games, 3 assists, 28 blocked shots, 14 hits in regular season; 25 games, 2 goals, 6 assists, 44 blocked shots, 37 hits in playoffs

[caption id="attachment_682445" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Ron Hainsey. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]

WHY HAINSEY?

Ron Hainsey made his NHL debut on Oct. 11, 2002. After 907 career games, he finally made his Stanley Cup playoff debut on April 12, 2017. No other player had played as many games without making an appearance in the postseason.

The Penguins acquired Hainsey from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and prospect Danny Kristo on Feb. 17, 2017. Hainsey was only a Penguin for six months, but he made quite an impact in that short time.

Hainsey averaged 20:59 of ice time per game and registered three assists in the 16 regular season games following the trade. When the playoffs came around, he was on the Penguins' first defensive pairing with Brian Dumoulin.

The 36-year-old postseason rookie scored his first goal in Game 4 of the Penguins' first-round series with Columbus.

Hainsey's second goal of the playoffs came in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, a 6-0 rout of Nashville:

When the Penguins won the Stanley Cup three days later in Nashville, Hainsey was the first player to take a victory lap with the Cup after Sidney Crosby.

Hainsey recorded 37 hits and 44 blocked shots in the playoffs. He averaged 21:07 of ice time per game, the second-most on the team.

His last moments in a Penguins sweater came on June 17, 2017, strutting his way through the Penguins' victory parade.

WHAT'S HE DOING NOW?

Hainsey signed a two-year deal worth $6,000,000 with the Toronto Maple Leafs on the opening day of free agency in 2017.

"I think the system is a great fit for me," Hainsey said upon signing with Toronto. "When (coach) Bill Peters got to Carolina and put the system in, which is basically what (Maple Leafs coach) Mike Babcock does, it really suited my game and it's a system I'm really confident playing. Coupled with everything that's going on there, from the young forwards that can create so much offense to (president) Brendan Shanahan on down, as a defenseman, if you didn't want to be part of this, you'd be nuts, I really believe that."

Hainsey recorded four goals and 19 assists in 80 games with Toronto in the first year of his deal. When he returned to PPG Paints Arena with his new team on Dec. 9, the Penguins played a tribute video for him:

He had one assist in seven postseason games this spring, the first playoff series loss of his career.

IT WAS SPOKEN

"It feels like Wednesday." -- Hainsey on the feeling before making his postseason debut.

"We're thrilled for him. I think he's as excited as some of our young guys that it's a new experience for." -- Mike Sullivan on Hainsey's postseason debut

"I think it was just special to be able to pass it to him, somebody who has probably been through so much, played a long time and can appreciate it as much as he can." -- Sidney Crosby on passing the Stanley Cup to Hainsey

“It was pretty cool to see a guy who’s been through a lot. He’s played for a long time. Seeing him lift it is really nice to see. He played a huge role for us. He was great, so I was really happy to see that.” -- Matt Cullen on Hainsey winning the Stanley Cup

“It felt great. It was unexpected. We won so late, feel like it all kind of went by in a blur the last couple of minutes. Certainly moments here the whole night that we’ll never forget.” -- Hainsey on winning the Stanley Cup

HONORABLE MENTIONS AT NO. 65:

None

ANY DEBATE?

Nope. Ben Lovejoy wore the number for two games in 2008-09. Not much competition here.

Tomorrow: Dejan has soixante-six. Who could it be?
Yesterday: Tim Wallace

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