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Hainsey 13th in THN's top 100 influential hockey people

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THE time frame is relatively short but 2013 is turning up roses no matter where Winnipeg Jets defenceman Ron Hainsey turns.

A committed advocate and bargaining-committee member for the NHLPA during the recent labour dispute, his was one of the hands on the wheel guiding a new collective bargaining agreement with the league and helping to avoid a nuclear winter without the world's best circuit.

Even the expected boo birds -- i.e. some who may not have agreed with his cause -- at opening-night introductions went easy on him, barely heard in the MTS Centre.

And through four games of the new season, when some questioned his preparedness or ability, the 31-year-old from Bolton, Conn., has eaten up major minutes for the Jets -- averaging more than 23 a game -- and been effective and reliable in the process.

Now this: The Hockey News has placed Hainsey on its list of the top 100 people of power and influence, a feature in its Jan. 21 issue.

Here's what THN wrote, placing Hainsey not just on the list of 100 but at No. 13, the second-highest player on the list, behind only Sidney Crosby:

"He has been dubbed the 'bad cop' of the NHLPA and has cantankerously locked horns with owners during negotiations, but Hainsey has also become one of Don Fehr's most trusted conduits on the player front. As a depth defenceman with a $4.5-million salary cap hit, the 31-year-old has opened himself up to criticism with his stance, but has managed to take the heat."

THN has place Hainsey ahead of others in the game like Washington owner Ted Leonsis (14), who was on the league's negotiating committee, Hockey Canada president and CEO Bob Nicholson (17), Wayne Gretzky (76), and Jets co-owner Mark Chipman (94).

Asked Saturday for a reaction, Hainsey said he wouldn't speak about the list.

OK, then, but has he been hearing about it from others, maybe in a kidding way from his teammates?

"I have not heard about it (from others)," was his short reply.

"Moving on," he said. "We're moving forward. We're playing now."

Given the fact that he didn't want to talk about the unusual -- in particular, THN's list -- Hainsey was then more eager to talk about day-to-day Jets matters.

Like Friday's determined comeback win over the Penguins and whether it was worth more to the team's confidence, given that it was over a highly touted Cup contender.

"I would think so because you knew what a big challenge it was going into that game," Hainsey said. "We did not start off great, obviously falling down 2-0, and we improved after it got to 2-0, played better, then we got some huge saves from (Ondrej) Pavelec to hold it; two on (Evgeni) Malkin, at 2-1, ... and that was huge for the team. From then on we really took the game to them.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 27, 2013 B3

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