|6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)|
243 lb (110 kg)
|Teams||New York Rangers (1996–1998)|
New York Islanders (1998–2004)
Florida Panthers (2005–2006)
Pittsburgh Penguins (2006–2007)
|Born||June 27, 1974,|
Oakville, ON, CAN
|NHL Draft||72nd overall, 1992|
New York Rangers
|Pro Career||1996 – 2007|
Drafted by the New York Rangers in 1992, he spent several seasons there 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.
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 08, 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. 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."
In another incident on February 19, 2004, Dale Purinton sucker-punched Cairns in the face and continued to punch him after he was down on the ice. The rest of the game included a number of fights. Cairns called Purinton "gutless" and suggested that he violated the "code" of hockey enforcers by delivering the sucker punch. A week later, on February 26, the Islanders and Rangers again faced off. Cairns and Purinton came together, and Cairns began to throw punches, but 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
During the lockout, Cairns played on 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 the referee. The incident began shortly after a whistle when Belak & Cairns made contact behind the net. Cairns was called for a penalty and immediately lost it and tried to get his revenge on Belak and the other officials. The referee was holding him when Cairns threw a punch with his left hand to free himself. He skated around the rink for about a minute, unable to lose his teammates who were following right next to him to make sure he didn't escalate the incident anymore. Finally, he raced to the Coventry bench where he threw a punch which finally dragged Belak back onto the ice for a "proper" fight. He was suspended for the remainder of the season, although the NHL allowed him to return the following year.
Cairns was acquired from Florida Panthers in January 2006 to strengthen the Pen's defence and protect Sidney Crosby. Amazingly, Cairns started with a goal against the New York Islanders. Spent 124 minutes in the penalty box and was involved in the team's fight of the season after making short work of Philadelphia Flyers winger Donald Brashear.
Post playing career
Cairns is now a professional scout for the Islanders.