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Top 100 Goalies: No. 79 — Jim Henry

He’s a success story from a time when wars disrupted careers and forced players to start over.
HHOF Images

HHOF Images

It’s not often a goaltender finds a second life in the NHL, but that’s what happened to ‘Sugar’ Jim Henry.

Henry burst onto the scene with the New York Rangers at 21 in 1941-42, leading the league in wins and tying Walter ‘Turk’ Broda for the most minutes played. New York finished tops in the NHL for the first time ever but lost to Toronto in the first round of the playoffs.

The Second World War called Henry after that, and he didn’t play in the NHL again until 1945-46. He struggled to find his range and headed to the USHL (a senior league at the time) for a season and a bit before returning to New York and Chicago for full NHL seasons in 1947-48 and ’48-49. Then he was relegated to the AHL for two seasons.

Refreshed from his time in Kansas City and Indianapolis, Henry was 31 when he returned to the NHL as a Boston Bruin in 1951-52, and his confidence came back, too. The acrobatic netminder led the Bruins to the 1953 Stanley Cup final, where they were dismissed by Montreal 4-1. One year before, the Habs had beaten Boston in a seven-game semifinal series, made famous by a photo of a black-eyed Henry, almost bowing as he shook hands with a bloodied Rocket Richard in the wake of Montreal’s decisive victory.

After four seasons with the Bruins, Henry transitioned out of the NHL at 35. He played some senior hockey before hanging up his pads. Henry was also the coach and GM of the Brandon Wheat Kings for one season, though he replaced himself behind the bench with Glen Lawson.

Though the nickname ‘Sugar’ seems to indicate Henry made sweet saves, the moniker actually comes from childhood. As a toddler, Henry would wander over to the neighbor’s house, where the girls would dip his soother in sugar, much to his delight. The nickname stuck his whole life, until he died at 83 in 2004.

Born: Oct. 23, 1920, Winnipeg, Man.
NHL Career: 1941-55
Teams: NYR, Chi, Bos
Stats: 161-174-69, 2.84 GAA, 28 SO
All-Star: 1 (Second-1)

DID YOU KNOW?

During the war, Henry played plenty of hockey. While on duty, he tended goal for Canadian military-affiliated teams, including the Red Deer Army, Calgary Navy, Ottawa Commandos and Ottawa Staff Clerks.

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