Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hainsey unlikely to stay with Jets

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Unrestricted free agency is the holy grail for a players' association in any sport, so to have one of its leaders spurn the opportunity just wouldn't wash with the rank and file.

Ron Hainsey's role with the NHLPA almost makes it a requirement that he test the free agent market on July 5.

Were the Winnipeg Jets to make him an offer significantly increasing his wage, the veteran blue-liner could likely accept with little or no backlash. But a pay cut, a given in Hainsey's case, wouldn't be viewed as good union politics. Hainsey must consider the optics of his actions so it's a safe bet he'll test the market.

Hainsey led his union's recent CBA negotiations as they fought to retain contracting rights they'd gained in previous deals, including unrestricted free agency.

Taking the first offer sent his way, unless it included large gains that would elevate the marketplace, flies in the face of everything Hainsey has stood for in his off-ice politics.

The Jets are unlikely to offer Hainsey anything close to the previous deal -- $22.5 million over five years.

The Los Angeles Kings recently signed veteran defenceman Robyn Regehr to a two-year deal worth $6 million. The players are really only similar in age, position and previous contract, but Hainsey's representatives will likely use the Regehr contract as a comparable.

It's hard to imagine the Jets, with an influx of young defensive talent on the way and serious cash demands to meet in the form of Zach Bogosian and a slew of valuable restricted free agents, agreeing to such a demand.

It looks more and more like Ron Hainsey will go to market and find work with another organization.

BOGO TALKS BEGIN: Bogosian is slated to become a restricted free agent on July 5 and his agent Bob Murray says talks have begun with the Jets.

"We had a very preliminary discussion (Thursday)," said Murray in a response to an email query from the Free Press. Bogosian is coming off a strong season and is at the end of a two-year deal worth $5 million.

The Jets signed teammate Toby Enstrom to a five-year, $28.75-million deal last summer. Veteran Dustin Byfuglien is scheduled to make $5.75 million this season and has two more years at similar rates left on his deal.

Bogosian doesn't have the same offensive game or hockey sense as Enstrom and Byfuglien, but has more leadership upside and provides a constant physical presence.

Bogosian was used against the opposition's best players game in and game out. The coaching staff trusts him more than any other blue-liner.

The Jets will want to eat up some of Bogosian's unrestricted free agent years and that comes at a premium.

The maximum term the Jets could sign Bogosian to is eight years. Look for a six-year deal north of $30 million. If the sides want to go longer, the price is unpredictable.

EVANDER TWEETS: Jets power forward Evander Kane likes to share some of his thoughts on Twitter and he got his tweeps stirred up Thursday night.

Here's the play-by-play:

1. Evander Kane @EKane9JETS

For everyone asking why I don't care to watch or talk about the NHL playoffs. I'm not playing in them, I can't win this year, CONT:

2. Evander Kane @EKane9JETS

So I don't care! Next year will be a different story! You can count on that.

3. Evander Kane @EKane9JETS

I'm sick of sitting here at this time of the year not having a chance to win, not scoring goals, not winning games and not winning rounds.

4. Evander Kane @EKane9JETS

It really pisses me off and I'm done with these kind of results. It's time to start winning and it's starting now.

5. Evander Kane @EKane9JETS

Goodnight tweeps. #thenatural

A couple of things come to mind. It's great Evander wants to be in the playoffs and is bent on changing the way his team performs.

One might suggest watching the best play at the most difficult time of the year would be insightful for Evander or anyone trying to reach this level of competition but maybe that's a bit of hair splitting.

I've ragged on Kane for tweets in the past, so in the interest of fairness, kudos to Evander for urging both himself and his teammates to reach higher heights.

BURMI BUSINESS: An email sent to Alex Burmistrov's agent Mark Gandler went unanswered on Friday. But word around the NHL is Gandler has been chatting Burmistrov up to a number of NHL teams.

It's no secret there's a disconnect between the Jets and the Burmistrov group, but the latter has almost no leverage. Burmistrov is set to become a restricted free agent with no arbitration rights. An offer sheet is a pipe dream and the only way Burmistrov ends up on another NHL team next season is via trade.

Gandler's efforts may be a way of stirring interest in his client and causing teams to inquire about the Jets' asking price. Hard to see this getting wrapped up without some drama.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 8, 2013 C1

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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