New Jersey Devils star Adam Henrique gave a somewhat rambling answer when asked Sunday night why he didn't participate in a shootout between the Albany Devils and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Turns out, a thumb injury likely was the real reason. The Devils announced Wednesday that Henrique needs surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb and will miss 4-6 weeks.
Henrique is one of the best players in the American Hockey League. He was one of three finalists for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie last season. Since he is still on a two-way, entry-level contract, though, he was eligible to be sent to the minors during the NHL lockout this season.
Henrique scored a goal in the second period Sunday, when Albany hosted the first of four AHL games at Boardwalk Hall this season. But he was curiously absent in the shootout, which lasted five rounds before the Penguins finally won it 1-0 to take the game 5-4.
When asked why he didn't shoot, Henrique laughed slightly and said:
"It’s never been a huge part of my game. You know, we have great shooters in here. (Long pause) There’s guys that need to be in there who have great hands, make great plays. Whether or not I’m shooting, it doesn’t matter. But if I am, I’m going in there with a game plan whatever I have. Obviously we’ve been struggling a bit, so you try to get guys in there that are playing well and feeling the puck. And as of this far, it seems that the shootouts haven’t been going our way."
Fortunately for South Jersey fans, the Devils don't return to Boardwalk Hall until Jan. 13 against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. That's more than six weeks from now, so unless the lockout ends and Henrique is back in the NHL, he likely will be on the ice again at the Hall.