Ron Hainsey celebrates his 38th birthday today, which is notable if you’re a family member or friend who needs to pass along well-wishes, or the Toronto Maple Leafs monitoring his workload.
Hainsey’s shown himself to be incredibly durable throughout his career and is the 10th-oldest player in the league this season. He’s also seen a recent spike in playing time, surpassing 22 minutes in eight of 14 games dating back to the end of February, when Travis Dermott and Jake Gardiner both went down to injury.
Physically, he says he’s feeling great despite playing in all 75 Leafs games so far and weathering the grind of another season. The playoffs are coming soon, but the last thing he’s looking for is extra time off to rest — in part, because he thinks the discussion about implementing NBA-style “load management” isn’t feasible for NHL players and teams.
“It’s easy to say ‘Oh yeah, we’ll rest this guy, this guy, this guy,”’ Hainsey said this week. “Well if you rest a guy and you lose and then all of a sudden — I’m just making up the scenario — now Montreal’s five points behind you. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The Leafs are currently sitting seven points up on Montreal and seven points behind Boston with seven games remaining. When I pointed out that third place in the Atlantic Division was basically secured, Hainsey wasn’t buying it.
“Basically locked into third is not locked into third,” he said. “If someone sits a bunch of guys and loses eight in a row, you’re going to go ‘Well they were basically locked into third’ on TV? That’s not going to be an excuse. That might be your excuse right now, but if something happens — if somebody wins eight in a row or you lose … —