Not a fan favorite, really. People loved Jim Henkel, and it was pretty much assumed that Harder was brought in to take Henkel’s spot as a veteran on the roster.
Now, Harder’s gone. He was released yesterday after a 22-game stretch where he tallied just three goals, although he did tally an impressive 13 assists. Harder wasn’t one of the worst players on the team. Certainly wasn’t the best, either. But the team needed to change some things up, and Harder finds himself without a job as a result.
Henkel also continues to find himself without a job. After expecting to come back to the team this season, he unexpectedly found himself without a place to play in 2009-10 after putting up the best numbers of his four-year run as a Trenton Titan/Devil. He scored 23 goals, added 34 assists and provided a much needed veteran presence in the locker room in 2008-09 and really picked up his game in the second half of the season, consistently serving as one of the best players on the team. He also formed a very potent 1-2 punch with Trevor Kell on the penalty kill.
If Henkel would come back, the organization should take him back. His familiar number 11 hasn’t been worn by anyone this season…and it wouldn’t look right on anyone else’s jersey but his. For a class act like Henkel, his thank you lap for the fans around the ice after Game 7 of the T-Devils first round playoff series against Elmira last season shouldn’t be how he goes out.
It’s not like you’re doing the guy a favor…he clearly showed he can still get it done out there.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com