Posts Tagged ‘rangers’

Camille Henry - 1964-65 Topps Tall Boys

Camille Henry’s playing weight was 145 pounds.  It is claimed on the card that this would sometimes range all the way up to 150, but that may have been the difference between being in and out of skates.  It’s not clear.  At one weigh-in in 1965 he was 138, but asked the team not to post it for fear of embarrassment.

Typically, when a player is really small, his survival (perhaps literally) in professional hockey is dependent on him being really, really fast.  Henry’s nickname, “Camille the Eel” would suggest as much.  The odd thing is that he wasn’t.  He didn’t skate particularly well at all.  His nickname came from the same sort of ability that Wayne Gretzky had – the ability to find an open space in the scoring areas and never be hit directly while doing so.  Henry was elusive with great hands and this enabled a pro career that spanned 1953-70.

Born in Quebec City, Camille burst onto the public stage in 1953-54 with the Rangers.  He scored 24 goals as a 21-year-old, which doesn’t sound like a ton, but in the dead-puck era of the early 1950s, this was good enough for sixth overall.  He won the Calder over Montreal’s prize rookie, Jean Beliveau.  (In fairness, Beliveau only played 44 games and wins this in a walk if he played a full season – just based on points per game.)

Someone with a lot of time on their hands determined (since the NHL didn’t track this officially yet) that 20 of those 24 goals came on the power play.  Certainly, for someone lacking speed and size, that was the best time to find open ice.

The Calder win didn’t seem to settle the minds of the Rangers’ brass on Henry and they stuck him in the AHL for most of the couple of seasons. His scoring ability eventually won out, though, and starting with the second half of 1956-57, he became one of the Rangers’ most effective scorers for most of a decade.  If he dressed for at least 50 games, Henry was a lock for 20 goals.  He bettered 25 goals five times, twice scoring 30-plus.  He peaked at 37 in 1963.  He was a top-ten goal scorer six times in his career and was named to the Second All-Star team in 1958, the same year he won the Lady Byng for gentlemanly play.  He probably deserved a few more of those trophies as only once in his career did he top 10 penalty minutes in a season.

The Rangers disposed of most of their veterans in the mid-1960s and retooled.  This saw Henry shipped to Chicago in February, 1965.  Chicago was much more heavily-stacked up front than New York and Henry’s numbers dipped.  He spent more time in the minors.  When expansion came in 1967-68, a lot of veterans made NHL reappearances.  Henry surfaced again in New York, then spent his remaining NHL days in St. Louis.  He finished with 279 goals and 528 points in 727 games – all good totals for the era.

He coached briefly, but struggled with health issues (diabetes) which tied into financial issues.  He was beneficiary of a nice settllement from the NHL when the Eagleson/pension suit finally reached its end, but didn’t really get to enjoy it for long.  He died of complications from diabetes in 1997 at age 64.
Camille Henry - 1964-65 Topps Tall Boys back