It’s not uncommon for players to go from foes to teammates during their hockey careers. Players work their way through the ranks with high hopes of making it to the National Hockey League, and during that journey their paths cross and align with countless players in different organizations. One season they’ll be throwing the gloves down against one another, and a couple seasons later, they could very well be on the same team as their fight mate.
And that is exactly what happened to Admirals forwards Kevin Henderson and Scott Valentine.
Back on September 12th, 2010, Henderson (who played for San Jose) and Valentine (who played for Anaheim) tangled during the Ducks/Sharks Rookie Tournament. Henderson was screaming up the near boards with the puck when Valentine stopped him with a shoulder inside the blue line. After the whistle blew, Henderson grabbed Valentine by the jersey, and the two forwards threw down the gloves.
When fans see players fight, they generally assumed that it is fueled by anger of hatred for the opposing team. After showing Valentine and Henderson the video in the locker room after Saturday nights Admirals game, I got a sense that battles like this can result in a new found comradery between players.
“I think its something you almost gain a little respect for them, unless there is some sort of flaggerant cheap shot, hockey players never really hold grudges, and when you play the game, you’re just one of the guys.” (Valentine)
“Yeah, we didn’t hold a grudge for very long, I think it was the next period we were laughing about it, so it’s all good fun as he said, it was a little respect for both of us to drop the gloves and everything was clean, so it was good.” (Henderson)
With a schedule of 80-plus games a season, I didn’t think that either of them would remember the details of that specific fight. Of course, I was wrong, as both Henderson and Valentine were able to give me a play-by-play as if it happened yesterday.
“You know, that was my 5th rookie tournament, I was a little older and he hit me, and I was just frustrated. Then he wanted to fight and I was, more or less thinking to fight him, just because he made a good play and hit me. And I was just like ‘ here we go’. At those rookie tournaments you want to try and try and impress all the scouts, so we got mixed up a little bit. But it was fun, it was all good.” (Henderson)
Henderson joined the Admirals back on February 10th, and immediately upon his arrival, Valentine remembered tangling with him a few years back.
“When I saw him when he first came here, I was like “Hey, I recognize this guy a little bit. And then I remembered that fight. We got along well, we’re good ol’ OHL boys and have a lot in common, so we hit it off pretty good.” (Valentine)
Not only do the two get along well, they are now roommates. Certainly a far cry from sharing time in the penalty boxes back in 2010.