Coming into this season, it seemed as if the New Jersey Devils were ready to make Adam Henrique a star. Then the lockout happened.
They sent the Calder finalist down to Albany to play in the minors while the league worked out a new CBA. On November 25, Henrique suffered a thumb injury that would ultimately keep him out for well into the already-shortened season. It was a cruel fate on top of the worst nightmare for the organization.
He wouldn’t see the ice again until the Devils played the New York Islanders on January 31. He came out of the gate scorching hot, scoring in his first game back. It seemed like he may be the spark this team needed to keep them going when it seems like they’re playing a game every night.
Then, Ilya Kovalchuk went down with a shoulder injury. In 28 games prior to that injury, Henrique had 10 goals. In the remaining 15 games, he recorded only one. Maybe it was pressure, maybe it was unfamiliarity of a new line, or maybe it was just in his head, but he just did not play as well.
What will happen now that there is no return for Kovalchuk? Will Henrique be able to bounce back with all the changes that the Devils are going through? Was Kovalchuk the source of all of his production?
One quote that he made earlier in the offseason suggested that there is nothing to worry about. When asked about the Kovalchuk situation, Henrique said to the Star-Ledger, “I haven’t really thought about more pressure on me. Maybe there is more opportunity.”
He is only thinking about the fact that now the team can see guys step up. He takes the positive out of a negative. He is excited about the opportunity that this is going to provide him. He wants to show that he can help this team go on another run through the postseason.
Henrique has all the talent to revert right back to his 2011-12 form. This is a guy who literally won two series for the Devils on their way to a Stanley Cup Final. He is on the verge of superstardom. He will one day be the face of this franchise. Expect to see a very motivated (and very well-paid) Henrique this season. Expect him to take this team to heights that fans didn’t expect when Kovalchuk left.
Not only is he going to bounce back, he is going to show fans that the future of this Devils franchise is in good hands.