Thursday, May 10, 2012

Player Spotlight: Alex Henry

Why, you may wonder, am I devoting a spotlight piece to a defenseman who has played only 2 games in a Canadiens uniform, and those being back in 2008-09?  It's because after four seasons of reliable service for the Hamilton Bulldogs - three spent as the team's captain - Alex Henry is moving on.  It was announced yesterday that the tough 6'5", 220 lbs blueliner has signed a deal with the Dusseldorfer Eislauf Gemeinschaft (DEG) Metro Stars of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) for next season.

Henry, 32, is no stranger to Germany, having suited up for Kaufbeuren ESV of the 2nd tier league there during the 2004-05 NHL lockout.  The DEG Metro Stars were Germany's top club in the 1990s, winning championships in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1996, but none since, losing in the finals in both 2006 and 2009.  Brendan Shanahan played three games for the team during the 1994 NHL lockout, scoring 5 goals and 8 points.  The team's roster today includes former Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin, one-time New York Ranger Jeff Ulmer, short-term St. Louis Blue Andy Roach, and recent signee Michael Catenacci, who spent this season with the Kitchener Rangers.

Before joining the Canadiens' organization, Henry had played 175 NHL games, split between the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, and Minnesota Wild, the last of which he even briefly served as captain of.  Not the swiftest of foot, he had been relegated to an AHL role for two full seasons before Montreal signed him, so it was of little surprise that he would be spend most of his time with the club in Hamilton.  While he has little offensive game to speak of, Henry is a tough customer, racking up 127, 154, 96, and 94 penalty minutes in his four seasons with the Bulldogs respectively.  He brought leadership to a team that saw the likes of Yannick Weber, Ryan White, David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty, and P.K. Subban graduate to the NHL during his tenure there.  For this reason, I wish him all the best in pursuing his career overseas.  He could have been a valuable asset with Nathan Beaulieu, Jarrred Tinordi, Morgan Ellis, and Greg Pateryn all set to make their pro debuts with the Bulldogs in the Fall, but their arrival also means less available time for a guy like Henry, so the Canadiens will have to look elsewhere for a veteran presence on the AHL blueline.  He was about to become one of three 'Dogs veteran D UFAs this summer along with Joe Callahan and Garrett Stafford, and it is possible that one of the other two is retained to fill this role.

As a parting tribute to Henry, here's a look at some of his spirited bouts:

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