Defenseman Brent Henley is accustomed to getting his aggression out on the ice.
But he didn’t have that outlet for 1 1/2 years.
And there was plenty of anger produced by being away from the sport he loves.
It was absolutely terrible, not being in the dressing room, not being able to celebrate wins and be around the guys. One of the worst times of my life, said Henley, who rejoined the Komets last week, and helped them to a 4-3 victory over the Evansville IceMen in an overtime shootout Saturday at Memorial Coliseum.
Henley, 31, skated for the Komets from 2006 to 2008, getting popular with the fans for his physical style (335 penalty minutes in 82 games), steady defense and by helping them to an IHL championship.
He began 2009-10 playing for Hartford of the higher-level American Hockey League but suffered a knee injury that limited him to 16 games.
It’s been the knee the whole time, said Henley, who had a torn ACL. Nov. 17 was the last game I’d played in 2009. It’s been a long, bumpy trip, a lot of surgeries, a lot of specialists. Just trying to work my way in to get back to the level I expect myself. (Saturday) was a good first step, but there’s still a long way to go.
Henley began this season with Utah of the ECHL – he played in one game, having one fight – but he was a casualty of the salary cap and the Grizzlies having too many NHL contracted players to keep him around.
He was quickly snatched up by the Komets (1-1-0), who wanted his size (6-foot-7, 250 pounds) and veteran presence for a young defensive corps in their second CHL season.
I love it here, he said. Everything from the building, to the fans, to the support we have in the community, to the way (general manager) David Franke treats the players, to the way Al (Sims) coaches us, to the few guys I still know in the room. They bring in quality players, quality guys. ... Everybody is top notch.
Against the IceMen, who defeated the Komets 5-0 on opening night Oct. 22, Henley victoriously fought Mike Sgroi.
After missing so much time, Henley was never worried about regaining his skating prowess. He was apprehensive about the things he couldn’t so easily duplicate without playing games.
It was the actual playing of the game, having guys chase me and hit me, Henley said. There were times when the puck didn’t feel right on my stick, (Saturday), but it will.
Notes: The Komets are offering any active or inactive veteran a free ticket (one per veteran) for Sunday’s game against Quad City. The offer is good for one ticket in the upper arena, Pepsi zone and upper deck only.