When Frank Henry retired to Buffalo after an event-filled career as a New York City detective, he figured his wild adventures were over. It turns out he was just getting started.
The NHL security representative for the Sabres is scheduled to fly to Sochi today. He will be the security rep for the United States and Latvian hockey teams, an assignment that will put him on a first-name basis with players and police.
Working at the Olympics is typically a once-in-a-lifetime event. Not for Henry, who is going for the third time. He provided security for the Czech Republic team in 2002 in Salt Lake City and 2010 in Vancouver.
“I’m blessed,” said Henry, who has represented the Sabres for 20 years. “There’s one security member for each team in the NHL, so that’s 30. We all have a backup in case we can’t go to a game. To be one of the guys to go to three of them, that’s really, really different.
“It makes me feel good that the league feels confident in me that I’m the right guy to go over there, especially associated with the USA team.”
Part of Henry’s job in Russia will be to meet with Olympic and arena security chiefs to coordinate the athletes’ trips from the housing village to the games and practices. He’ll help control the locked-down areas during the hockey events and be the liaison if something unfortunate happens with the teams or their personnel.
“We’re the security detail with police and military,” Henry said. “All the officers, they’ll know who we are in case they have any questions, and we’ll know who they are in case there are any questions. It’s like putting a face to face so they’ll feel comfortable approaching us.”
There are significant security concerns – many players have declined to bring family members – but Henry doesn’t anticipate any problems.
“I’m not personally worried about it,” he said. “I have a great feeling. But having the retired detective in me, I’m always alert to anything. I say to you, ‘I’m not worried. I think that it will be a great, safe place for the players,’ but you always have to have your guard up because something can happen. If you don’t think that way, it defeats the purpose of you going.”
Henry’s resume suggests he’ll be prepared should anything come up. He joined the NYPD in 1973 after stints in the Army and New York department of corrections. His first assignment was in the south Bronx district known as Fort Apache. The notorious high-crime area was immortalized in the 1981 Paul Newman film, “Fort Apache, The Bronx.”
After becoming detective, Henry was promoted to the major case squad. The Big Apple native handled only the biggest jobs and investigated organized crime, cop shootings, kidnappings and bank robberies. He retired in 1991.
“I said at my retirement dinner, ‘I want to thank all you guys in the room here and the people of the city of New York for giving me a front-row seat to the greatest show on earth,’ ” Henry said.
His wife, Linda, is from Amherst, so they moved to Western New York with their son and daughter. Henry was working as an insurance company investigator when an old friend from the NYPD called. The guy had been hired as director of security for the NHL, and he had a plan to revamp the department. He offered Henry a job working with the Sabres.
Henry took it, and it’s taken him to three Olympics.
“It’s an awesome event,” said Henry, who turns 65 this month. “You see these players when they walk in the arena when they first get there, they’re in their glory. I remember Andrej Sekera telling me in Vancouver how proud he was to represent his country. As they look around the arena, you can just see it on their face.
“It just gets better every time.”
Blues’ goalie shines
The Blues, an oft-mentioned suitor of Ryan Miller, continue to say the right things about goaltender Jaroslav Halak. In return, he’s doing the right things.
Halak started six of seven games for St. Louis entering the weekend. He went 4-1-1 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .938 save percentage. The Blues beat Boston, 3-2, in overtime Thursday.
“Our most competitive player was the goalie,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “The goalie was outstanding, and he helped us a lot.”
It seems Blues forward Chris Stewart is available, and the Rangers have interest. Stewart has 15 goals this season but entered the weekend stuck in a 13-game drought. The 26-year-old has another season left on his contract that pays $4.15 million annually.
Malarchuk in dark
By the time Clint Malarchuk knew about the party, it was already over.
The Calgary goaltending coach and former Sabres netminder set a Quebec/Colorado franchise record with nine wins in a month while playing for the Nordiques in 1985-86. He had no clue until Semyon Varlamov broke the mark by winning 10 times in January with the Avalanche.
“I didn’t know,” Malarchuk said. “In one sense it’s, ‘Shoot, I could have bragged about that if I’d known.’ And now I can’t brag about it because it’s broken.”
On the fly
• Kris Russell, one of the few rental defensemen on the market, is close to signing an extension with the Calgary Flames. If he does, Henrik Tallinder’s trade value goes up. Boston is looking for a left-handed defenseman like Tallinder.
• Toronto just had its Parents’ Trip. As the group prepared for a huge dinner, rookie defenseman Morgan Rielly started thinking about the check. “I know that’ll be a big bill,” Rielly said. ‘Hopefully, I won’t have to pay that one. Hopefully, that’ll be Dion Phaneuf or someone picking up the tab.”