BRAMPTON, Ont. – A hard-working, battle-tested experienced defenseman opens up about his long-lasting career playing hockey.
Earlier this month, three-year Brampton Beast captain Jordan Henry announced his retirement from professional hockey. I sat down with him to talk about his career highlights, playing overseas, and to find out his reasons as to why he retired at this time.
The Sin Bin: What led to your decision to retire from playing hockey?
JORDAN: My wife’s pregnant again. So we got my first little boy Jensen, he’s 16 months right now and then my wife’s due right at the end of October again. So now we’re going to have two kids under two and my wife owns a company in Mississauga. So a lot more of the work and the burdens kind of fell on her as far as that goes (with the current pandemic situation). My parents don’t live in the Toronto area either and my wife lost her mom a few years ago, so it’s just basically my father in law as far as the family unit outside of us and you don’t want to put that kind of pressure on him as far as babysitting. We don’t have the family support around here to have the kids babysit. I think we had, always discussed, that was going to be the case when she got pregnant again, with this second baby that I was going to retire. We actually weren’t planning it for another couple of years. It was a bit of a surprise.
The whole COVID-19 situation put a lot of uncertainty into hockey in general, let alone the (ECHL) season moving forward. I wouldn’t know if I’d want to take those health risks, putting my family in harm’s way by traveling to the U.S. all the time and back and forth to different cities, unless it was a lot more secure than it is now.
TSB: Being from the small town of Milo, Alberta…what got you into hockey?
JORDAN: It’s small-town Alberta, pretty much everyone plays hockey, right? So it’s like the only real things we had in the town of Milo are the school, the bank, the grocery store, and the hockey rink. Well, I guess we had a bar too, but I wasn’t going in there. All the kids played hockey, the rink was always open, you just walk in and the ice is there and you go skate. So after school, a lot of the kids are going over and they’re skating, they’re playing shinny just everybody does it, no matter if you’re good or not good, everyone’s out there together. So it’s just, it’s fun, and it’s just kind of part of life out there.
TSB: Why did you choose defense as a position to play?
JORDAN: Honestly, in my time growing up, the defenseman wasn’t as good as skaters and now and they’re big guys. I was kind of big and slow, so they just threw me back there. The team that I played on when I was young, minor hockey, we only had three defensemen so it was like you got a ton of ice time, we only had three or four D for a game. So if you want to play a lot and you want to develop that’s where I was going to play. My dad was a defenseman growing up too, he showed me the ropes.
TSB: How was it playing for the Brampton Beast in the last five seasons?
JORDAN: I really enjoyed it you know, as I said with my wife and I live in Burlington so it made the transition a lot easier for that fact. We decided together, it’s time to play closer to home once we got married, I want to spend more time with her and put down some roots here in Burlington. It couldn’t have worked out better with Brampton being right down the road, I got to play five seasons here and I loved every minute of it.
TSB: What are some career highlights that stood out for you?
JORDAN: Anytime you come out of the junior year and you’re fortunate enough to sign an NHL contract that was a big, big highlight for me. Florida took a chance on me and they gave me a pretty good opportunity to kind of insert myself into the NHL lineup there. I was close to getting called up a couple of times probably and then I decided to jump on the Russia thing (KHL) just to see what it would be like. That’s a highlight to go over there and you spend time. I had my first goal over there was on Dominik Hasek. I wouldn’t have got that experience anywhere but over there. Then to come back and sign again with the Flames and get an opportunity to play exhibition games in the Saddledome, the rink where I watched my first NHL game and you see your friends and family there to watch you, that was obviously a big thrill.
TSB: What is the difference playing in Europe compared to North America?
JORDAN: Honestly, when I was younger, it was nice to get out and do that stuff. When I went to Russia, I’d never been to Europe before anything like that and as a 23-year-old to go over there, it’s kind of an eye-opener going over there by yourself. It was a great experience and allowed me to do some traveling. It’s easier to do when you’re younger then to do it now and uproot the whole family.
While obviously, the ice surface being bigger is a big factor, especially as a defenseman, I feel like your positioning changes a lot just because you can’t afford to get too far away from the net and overcommit to the board area unless you’re certain that you’re going to get the puck or you’re certain you’re gonna be able to make a play. Otherwise, it’s just like before, you’re swimming in the middle of nowhere out there, you’re so much further from your net and then kind of opens up a lot more space for scoring chances. So it’s a little bit more of a compact game defensively. After a few games, you get used to it and then you know, kind of where you should where you shouldn’t go and then you kind of adapt your style that way.
TSB: What made you keep going?
JORDAN: I think it’s just how I was raised. Obviously, my parents and grandparents were farmers when I was growing up. They’re hardworking people, and they in-stilled good values in me as far as work ethic, not to quit on stuff when it doesn’t work out right away. I love hockey too, I have loved hockey since I was a kid. That’s all I’ve ever really known as far as sports-wise. Once I started, I gave up the other sports pretty quickly just to spend more time with hockey. I love the game and I always will. I think you want to play forever, it was a great run and I’m happy about it.
TSB: What’s next on the plate for Jordan Henry?
JORDAN: Just being a dad and a husband, you’re gone so much during the season, and truthfully with the pandemic situation, I’ve enjoyed it, for the most part, to just spend so much more time with my son and my wife. My son being so young and developing so quickly, you go away for a week and you miss a bunch of big moments. So that part of it’s been great, with the second little guy coming along soon it’s going to be chaotic for a few months. And with the uncertainty of the season, I’m just gonna take this season and enjoy some family time.
I would definitely like to get into coaching. I feel like I’ve had a lot of experience at a lot of different levels. I’ve watched the game progress over the last 13 years as a pro to the point it is now and I know today’s playing style. I feel like I can still relate to the younger players, I’m old playing-wise, but as far as a coach, it’s something I’m definitely interested to get into. So it’s just a matter of finding the right opportunity.