A look to the past: Camille Henry
The period from mid-1940’s through the mid-1960’s were lean years for the Rangers. They made the playoffs six times during a 24 year span, from 1942-43 to 1965-66. Subtract the three-year span from 1955-56 to 1957-58 and the Rangers missed the playoffs eighteen times out of twenty-one seasons.
One bright spot was the play of winger Camille Henry. He was a tiny, slippery player known as Camille the Eel, who avoided being hit by bigger players. He stood approximately 5-8, 145, but played larger than his size. He played with a good motor, had a good wrist shot, excelled on the power play, and specialized at deflecting pucks in front of the net – he just knew where to be. Most of all, he was a big fan favorite, playing all or parts of twelve seasons. His career with the Rangers began in 1953-54, where he won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year. He was traded to the Providence Reds of the AHL midway through his second season because he was struggling and then loaned to the Quebec Aces in the Quebec Hockey League. He played all of 55-56 with Providence where he was an integral part of a team that won the Calder Cup, scoring 50 goals. He split the 56-57 season with Rangers and Providence, before staying with the Blueshirts until being traded to Chicago in 64-65. He played 36 games with the Rangers in 67-68, before ending his NHL career with the expansion St. Louis Blues.
With the Rangers, Henry made the All-Star game three times in 57-58, 62-63, and 63-64, in addition to being second team All-NHL in 57-58. He scored 37 goals in 62-63 and 32 in 57-58. He also scored between 20 and 29 goals six times in 53-54, 57-58, 60-61, 61-62, 63-64, and 64-65. It should be noted he had 21 goals in 48 games with the Rangers in 64-65 before being traded to Chicago, where he tallied 5 in 22. He was also in the NHL Top 10 in goals six times: 53-54, 57-58, 60-61, 62-63, 63-64, and 64-65. He is the sixth leading goal-scorer in Rangers history with 256.
Henry played on teams that struggled, but that didn’t diminish his impact with the Rangers. He became the captain in 63-64 after Andy Bathgate was traded and won the Lady Byng trophy in 1957-58 for gentlemanly play. Wearing number-21, he dealt with numerous injuries. After his retirement after the 69-70 season, he coached the WHA’s New York Raiders in 72-73, playing their games at the Garden.
Henry passed away in 1997 from diabetes and other illnesses.
**Material for this article came from Pro-Hockey Reference, the NY Times, Wikipedia, Inside Hockey, and LCS Hockey.