Chris Phillips from the Ottawa Senators is sandwiched between Winnipeg Jets goalie Al Montoya and defenceman Ron Hainsey during third period action as the Ottawa Senators took on the Winnipeg Jets at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont. Saturday Feb 9, 2013. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)
WINNIPEG - He was the face of the NHLPA during the lockout and now he’s a lockdown defenceman for the Winnipeg Jets.
Ron Hainsey is not the most beloved player in the NHL, not by fans who saw him leading the fight against the owners that caused the cancellation of three months’ worth of games, not by Jets fans who wonder if he earns his big contract (no goals as a Jet).
But this season, Hainsey has been a rock for the Jets, especially with two of the team’s top three blue-liners – Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian -- on the shelf.
Hainsey played a game-high 29:32 minutes in Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Ottawa Senators, led all players in blocked shots with five and contributed to a penalty kill that was perfect (3-for-3) for the first time in a long time.
Hainsey has a cap-hit of $4.5 million this season and is a free agent at the end of the year. He’s an obvious trade candidate if the Jets don’t look like they will make the playoffs at the deadline.