On Wednesday morning, Paul Hendrick announced that he will be leaving MLSE and stepping down as the team’s presenter on the Leafs Nation Network, reporter, and interviewer. It was a genuinely heartbreaking moment for the entirety of Leafs Nation, a community that has always had its division, but always found common love, respect, and clarity in Henny. He has been the rudder of Leafs Nation, always pointing it in the right direction, never a foot wrong. In the media world we live in, and in the centre of the hockey universe, that is one heck of a legacy.

A few hours later, Kevin McGran released a story in the Toronto Star stating that Henny is leaving LNN in order to spend time with his wife who has cancer. After 41 years in the industry, Paul was planning on stepping away after the 2019-20 season, but in today’s environment, it would’ve been hard to finish the season in the bubble.

Everyone has a story about Henny and it always centres around his kindness, generosity, and energy. As a Marlies reporter, I got to see Henny a lot during the 2019 run. I got to shake his hand and say hello, but that was as far as my star-struck brain could take me. Henny was so kind and generous and beamed that million dollar smile every time I saw him.

He always made sure everyone had space in the scrums, made sure people were comfortable and could do their jobs. And for me, a person of colour with no experience until this job, it meant everything. That space, that earnest attention while I stumbled through my questions — something so many people in MLSE have given me. It meant the world, and all I want to do is carry that love and respect forward in my work and in my actions.

Below are several tweets from Henny, the Leafs, and fans. All with amazing stories and memories of Henny in the replies or quote tweets. Universal admiration.

You’ll never see Henny without his microphone, his notes written in sharpie on the back of game sheets (always be recycling), and a big beaming smile. I love this picture for that.

I love these from Henny’s producer and team.

I’m really going to miss Henny tweeting the lines at every practice and during warm-ups of every game. He was the first to do it, at least in Toronto. I’m also going to miss him dunking on fans on Twitter, or cheering them on, or sharing their insight. For someone’s who’s been around way longer than Twitter, Henny really gets it, and he made that tumultuous transition really well.

Adam Wylde of SDP fame worked at MLSE for a time and did a feature on Henny, telling the story of the team’s best storyteller. It was a fantastic opportunity to see a day in the life of a Leafs reporter (the Leafs reporter) and what it’s been like to work this job. Henny was also on The Blue Line podcast with Adam and Sasky Stewart to talk about his career and his humble beginnings at CHCH, it’s 43 minutes of goodness.

The Usuals: Paul Hendrick | Leafs Nation
The Blue Line Podcast | Leafs Nation

It always stings when I remember that Johnny Bower never got to see another Leafs Stanley Cup. He was the one alumni in the era where I grew up that I knew about and had that unabashed love and respect for. I miss Johnny to this day. I really wish he got to see another Leafs championship. In a similar vein, I hope the Leafs win the Stanley Cup, for Henny. One last ride, one last dance. Win the Cup, put his name on it, it is the least he deserves for shepherding this franchise for as long as he has.

Win it for Henny.

Leafs Branches

Here are the highlights from Day 3 of Summer Camp from Katya

“You know that person at your job, the one who is always ready to not do something or tell everyone else not to bother? That’s not the Leafs. The Leafs are that other annoying person who is always gung ho all the time, and wants to take everything so seriously they bring referees to training camp...Or have a tournament.”

Here is an article on the new rules for 35+ contracts, also from Katya

“Joffrey Lupul, Marian Hossa, Chris Pronger, Stephane Robidas, David Clarkson and Nathan Horton have all passed through at least one of those three teams on LTIR at the end of their careers. All of them existed somewhere on the continuum of not exactly fully healthy to totally unable to play in Horton’s case.”

Here is an article going through the logic of what a good fourth line would look like on the Leafs, this time from myself. My devilish plan — fewer forwards!

“With a fully healthy defense group, Rasmus Sandin isn’t getting into the Leafs lineup. Well, either him or Travis Dermott. If Sheldon Keefe is only going to give his fourth liners 5-7 minutes a game, it doesn’t hurt to throw one of the stars out with two talented forwards who can help on special teams and give the defense a boost with fresh legs and talent that can handle spot shifts with Morgan Rielly. At the very least, it keeps Cody Ceci’s minutes down while at the same time maximizing offensive zone shifts.”

And lastly, Seldo with #3 on our Top 25 Under 25 prospect ranking. William Nylander. He should’ve been #2.

“This year, William Nylander had his best season as a Maple Leaf yet. After last years dismal 0.5 points per game (7 goals, 20 assists, 54 games) in a season that wouldn’t begin until December, he rebounded with 31 goals, 28 assists in 68 games - 0.87 points per game. Four times as many goals, more than twice as many points (While taking one fewer penalty at that! Where’s his Lady Byng?).”

Friend of the Blog Rahef did some great analysis on Nylander and his takeaway prowess in the offensive zone following a tip from head coach Sheldon Keefe that Nylander was pretty nifty in that area. Rahef compares Nylander to other players who are near the top of the league in takeaways further in the thread.

Tl;dr: Nylander is very much not a perimeter player and instead one of the best board players in the league. Must be why the Leafs have put him at the net-front on their power play practices (ideal for scoring in tight and winning pucks behind the net on retrievals).

And a follow-up tweet on Nylander’s playoff performances from Tuesday.

Ilya Mikheyev also tries at that takeaway and puck retrieval game, but you know, he tries his best. Love the energy, though!

Dozens of families are speaking up  against the GTHL and their handling of their teenagers in the league over the years. Rick Westhead has a story on a Black family that was disrespected, ignored, and pushed out by the league.

“With more than 40,000 players and at least $10 million in annual revenue, the GTHL has come under scrutiny since 16-year-old Triple-A player Myles Douglas alleged in a May 23 interview with TSN that he was the target of racial slurs in at least half of his games this season.” - RIck Westhead, TSN

The NHL is doomed.

And Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom opens up about his fight with cancer at Sports Illustrated.

“Even with his face hidden behind a medical mask, the stadium-wide grin was unmistakable when Oskar Lindblom soon strode down the hallway from his private patient room—“Last time!” he announced en route—and found a fleet of nurses cheering his arrival at the checkout desk. As it turned out, Lindblom had planned a surprise for them too. After ringing a small bell on the wall to signal the end of his therapy, and wrapping girlfriend Alma Lindqvist in a hug, the 23-year-old Philadelphia Flyers winger produced one of his orange No. 23 jerseys, which he’d autographed and inscribed with a note: THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING!”