By Len Bardsley
Mike Henderson is not one to complain about lousy timing, but you couldn’t blame him if he did.
Henderson was acquired by the Titans from the Cincinnati Cyclones on Dec. 3, one day before the Titans were scheduled to play in Cincinnati.
So what did Henderson do? He packed his bags to drive to Trenton to practice one day with his new team before getting on the bus and driving all day through the snow to face his old team.
“It was kind of weird,” admitted Henderson. “They wanted me here to practice. It was a good experience playing back there. It was a little different for me.”
Henderson played a total of 91 games over two seasons with the Cyclones, scoring 21 goals and 27 assists. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound forward had scored four goals and added nine assists in 19 games this season.
The first trade of his career came as a bit of a shock.
“I was a little bit surprised,” said Henderson. “I played almost a year-and-a-half in Cincinnati. It was a great place to play. I learned a lot from the coach.
“I guess it was time for a change and I am glad to be in Trenton. It was a little tough at first. I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. It is a business. You have to grow up and accept the challenges.”
The challenge now for Henderson is to help get the Titans offense kick-started. The Titans had scored three goals in their last three games heading into last night’s game against the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies at Sovereign Bank Arena.
Ironically, the Cyclones are the hottest team in the ECHL, scoring 22 goals in a three-game homestand which included a 6-1 win over the Titans.
The Cyclones lead the league in goals per game with an average of 4.05, while the Titans are 20th with an average of 3.04.
Henderson hopes his style will help those Titans numbers.
“Speed and my shot,” said Henderson of his assets. “Also, creating turnovers on the forecheck and setting up plays.”
Henderson started his playing career at Lake Superior State, but when a better opportunity came calling, Henderson didn’t hesitate to make a move.
Henderson left Lake Superior State and went to the Ontario Hockey League, where he played for Barrie. Henderson averaged nearly a point a game for Barrie over two seasons.
“I got drafted by Barrie,” said Henderson. “They made a good offer and I decided to leave (Lake Superior State).
“It was more games, more exposure. It was a good situation and a winning team.”
At Barrie, Henderson scored 31 goals and added 37 assists in his second year as the team finished as runner-up for the Memorial Cup. One season later, he was named Cyclones’ Rookie of the Year.
One final benefit of being with the Cyclones was a preseason trip to Europe.
“We went to Italy, Germany and Austria,” said Henderson of the 10-day trip. “It was a great experience. It was just beautiful over there.”
Some may think a small speedster like Henderson would enjoy the wide-open European game more than the rugged style in the ECHL.
“Over here it is more physical,” said Henderson. “You get more involved in the game and it makes games more intense.”