The Charlottetown Islanders have announced that they have hired Kevin Henderson as the team’s newest assistant coach.
“We’re thrilled to add Kevin to our mix,” said Islanders head coach and general manager Jim Hulton. “He was the ideal candidate we were looking for as a former player that has learned from a lot of great coaches. We think he’ll be a terrific addition to our staff.”
“I’m really excited to join the Islanders. They have a great coaching staff already in place that brings a lot of experience to the table from all different levels of hockey.” said Henderson. “I’m really looking forward to learning under Jim and Guy.”
The 32 year-old Toronto native is wrapping up an expansive 10-year pro hockey playing career that included six seasons in the American Hockey League, where he won a Calder Cup Championship in 2013-2014 with the Texas Stars. He spent this past season with the Nottingham Panthers of the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) in the United Kingdom. Henderson’s pro career also included stops in Finland, Denmark, and Slovakia.
It was his time in Nottingham where Kevin picked up the itch to begin coaching, serving as a player-assistant coach for the season.
“I was on the fence as to whether not I wanted to continue playing or dive more in to coaching,” explained Henderson. “The more I thought about it after the season ended, the more I realized that coaching was what I wanted to get in to.”
During the 2012-2013 season, Henderson earned an opportunity with the NHL’s Nashville Predators. He recorded his first and only NHL goal in his first career game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Prior to turning pro, Henderson played three seasons with the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers before moving to the Maritimes to play AUS hockey with the University of New Brunswick for two seasons. He finished the 2008-2009 season with 50 points in 28 games, good for fifth overall in the CIS.
When asked about what made Henderson attractive as a coaching candidate, Hulton said that being a recent pro player was only one piece of the puzzle.
“A lot of this game is learning the small details. In his interview, Kevin talked extensively about what he’s learned in faceoffs, and as we all know that’s an issue our club faced last season.” said Hulton. “It’s the little intricacies of the game that make a big difference in the big picture. That’s what Kevin brings and that’s what we were looking for.”
As a young, recent pro player who reached the highest level of hockey in the world, Henderson also hopes to be able to use that experience to relate to the players on a unique level.
“I was never a drafted player; I wasn’t drafted to the OHL, nor drafted to the NHL,” he said. “I constantly had to outwork the drafted players ahead of me to get where I wanted to go. I want to help instil that same work ethic in our players and make them in to the best players possible.”
“As soon as you talk to him and do any research in to his background you realize how great his story is.” added Hulton. “He’s a great example of a guy that persevered, stuck with it, worked hard, and got his breaks. It’s a great lesson and wonderful example for the players in the room.”