Eric Cairns

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Eric Cairns
Born (1974-06-27) June 27, 1974 (age 42)
Oakville, ON, CAN
Height 6 ft 6 in (198 cm)
Weight 241 lb (109 kg; 17 st 3 lb)
Position Defence
Shot Left
Played for New York Rangers
New York Islanders
London Racers
Florida Panthers
Pittsburgh Penguins
NHL Draft 72nd overall, 1992
New York Rangers
Playing career 1996–2007

Eric Cairns (born June 27, 1974) is a Canadian retired ice hockey defenceman and current pro scout for the New York Islanders. His last season (2006) was with the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL. Eric is still being featured in EA Sports' yearly NHL hockey game; he was featured in NHL 10 despite being retired for a number of years.

Playing career[edit]

Drafted in the third round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers. He began his second year of professional hockey with the Charlotte Checkers in the ECHL where he played 14 games before the Rangers promoted him to the Binghamton Rangers of the AHL.[1] A year later was playing in the NHL with the New York Rangers, where he spent several seasons before being placed on waivers. The Rangers' crosstown rivals, the New York Islanders, claimed Cairns on December 22, 1998. He played six seasons with the team before they declined to renew his contract. After the 2004–05 NHL lockout the Florida Panthers signed him as a free agent. Cairns was then traded to the Penguins mid-season. He missed most of the 2006–2007 season with post-concussion syndrome and various other injuries.

Cairns, an enforcer, received less playing time in his last year of play as the enforcer role is less prominent in the post-lockout NHL. Since entering the league in the 1996–1997 season with the Rangers, Cairns accumulated 1,117 penalty minutes, 10 goals, and 32 assists.

Islanders-Rangers rivalry[edit]

During his tenure with the Islanders, Cairns was actively involved in the team's rivalry with the Rangers, particularly feuding with Theo Fleury, Sandy McCarthy, Matthew Barnaby and Dale Purinton. In a game on November 8, 2001, McCarthy challenged Cairns to a fight; initially, Cairns declined, but he later chased McCarthy down the ice into the Islanders' zone. During this time, McCarthy scored on a rebound. As McCarthy celebrated, Cairns gave him a jab to the jaw, which led to a fight between Cairns and Steve McKenna. Afterward, with Cairns in the penalty box, Fleury mocked him by flapping his arms like a chicken to suggest that Cairns was afraid to fight McCarthy, who flexed his biceps and looked at Cairns.[2] In the next game between the two teams, on December 21, Cairns and McCarthy fought at the beginning of the first period following an early Islanders goal. Cairns won the fight, and McCarthy said of him after the game, "I never said he wasn't a tough guy."[3]

In another incident on February 19, 2004, Dale Purinton beat Cairns in a fight and punched him after he was down on the ice. The rest of the game included a number of fights.[4] Cairns called Purinton "gutless." A week later, on February 26, the Islanders and Rangers again faced off. Cairns and Purinton came together, and as Cairns began to throw punches, Purinton elbowed Cairns in the face before Purinton dropped to the ice and turtled. Cairns let Purinton get up and challenged him, but Purinton refused to fight. Barry Melrose criticized Purinton for declining the chance to fight Cairns in a fair match.

London Racers incident[edit]

During the lockout, Cairns played for the London Racers. On March 23, 2005, he was involved in a notorious fight with Wade Belak (playing for Coventry Blaze), during which, he punched a linesman. The incident began shortly after a whistle when Andre Payette & Cairns made contact behind the net. Cairns was called initially for a slashing penalty and then an unsporting conduct for arguing, at this point he lost it and tried to get his revenge on Payette and the other officials. The linesman was holding him when Cairns threw a punch with his left hand to free himself. He skated around the rink for about a minute threatening to be-head the linesman with his shaft, unable to lose his teammates who were attempting to ensure he did not escalate the incident anymore. Upon going to leave the ice, he instead skated to the Coventry bench where he threw a punch which incensed Belak (and both benches) onto the ice to fight. He was suspended for the remainder of the season and the entire next season in all IIHF tournaments, although the NHL allowed him to return the following year.

Pittsburgh Penguins[edit]

Cairns was acquired from Florida Panthers in January 2006 to strength the Pen's defence and protect Sidney Crosby. Amazingly, Cairns started with a goal against the New York Islanders.

Post playing career[edit]

Cairns is now a professional scout for the Islanders.[5]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1994–95 Birmingham Bulls ECHL 11 1 3 4 49
1994–95 Binghamton Rangers AHL 27 0 3 3 134 9 1 1 2 28
1995–96 Binghamton Rangers AHL 46 1 13 14 192 4 0 0 0 37
1995–96 Charlotte Checkers ECHL 6 0 1 1 34
1996–97 New York Rangers NHL 40 0 1 1 147 3 0 0 0 0
1996–97 Binghamton Rangers AHL 10 1 1 2 96
1997–98 New York Rangers NHL 39 0 3 3 92
1997–98 Hartford Wolf Pack AHL 7 1 2 3 43
1998–99 New York Islanders NHL 9 0 3 3 23
1998–99 Hartford Wolf Pack AHL 11 0 2 2 49
1998–99 Lowell Lock Monsters AHL 24 0 0 0 91 3 1 0 1 32
1999–00 New York Islanders NHL 67 2 7 9 196
1999–00 Providence Bruins AHL 4 1 1 2 14
2000–01 New York Islanders NHL 45 2 2 4 106
2001–02 New York Islanders NHL 74 2 5 7 176 7 0 0 0 15
2002–03 New York Islanders NHL 60 1 4 5 124 5 0 0 0 13
2003–04 New York Islanders NHL 72 2 6 8 189 1 0 0 0 0
2004–05 London Racers Britain 22 2 6 8 85
2005–06 Florida Panthers NHL 23 0 1 1 37
2005–06 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 27 1 0 1 87
2006–07 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 1 0 0 0 5
2006–07 Wilkes-Barre Penguins AHL 2 0 0 0 10
NHL Totals 457 10 32 42 1182 16 0 0 0 28


  1. ^ Scott, Jon C. (2006). Hockey Night in Dixie: Minor Pro Hockey in the American South. Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd. p. 148. ISBN 1-894974-21-2. 
  2. ^ "Rangers Issue Fightin' Words Mccarthy, Fleury Target Isles' Cairns". Daily News. New York. December 21, 2001. [permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Caldwell, Dave (December 22, 2001). "HOCKEY; Cairns Doesn't Back Down, and Neither Do Isles". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ "Rangers, Isles react to wild Garden tilt". Retrieved March 21, 2010. 
  5. ^ "New York Islanders Staff". Archived from the original on June 28, 2009. Retrieved March 21, 2010. 

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