Sports

Hockey a family affair

Roy Henderson and his sons Taylor (left) and Bobby officially take control of the Langley Rivermen today (June 1) as the junior A hockey club’s new owners. The team is also co-owned by John Henderson, Roy’s older brother. Hockey has been a family business for the Hendersons their entire life. - Gary Ahuja/Langley Times
Roy Henderson and his sons Taylor (left) and Bobby officially take control of the Langley Rivermen today (June 1) as the junior A hockey club’s new owners. The team is also co-owned by John Henderson, Roy’s older brother. Hockey has been a family business for the Hendersons their entire life.
— image credit: Gary Ahuja/Langley Times

The fact that the entire Henderson clan is involved in hockey comes as little surprise to the family’s patriarch.

After all, the way Roy Henderson described it, his two sons were born into hockey.

Within days of both sons being born, Henderson boasts that the newborns were already at the hockey rink, where their dad spent much of his time.

So it is only fitting, that all these years later, the game still plays a central part in the Hendersons’ lives.

Henderson, along with his older brother John, officially take control of Langley’s junior A hockey club today (June 1).

And Roy’s sons, Bobby, 29, and Taylor, 22, will play key roles in the day-to-day operations of the team.

“These kids have a degree in hockey,” Roy said.

“They have both been around the game since day one, since they were just a few days old.

“In all honestly, they have seen all aspects of the game.”

Roy, who played minor hockey, got into the hockey business when he was in his 30s, landing a scouting job with the old Kamloops Oilers and Bill Laforge.

Roy was a natural fit.

“I had a passion for the game and I was good at writing reports,” he explained, adding that his day job as a probation officer made him a good investigator which translated well to his new side job.

Within a couple of years, Roy had progressed to the point where he landed in the NHL as  the Philadelphia Flyers’ western scout.

“It wasn’t to be in the NHL, I just enjoyed (scouting),” Roy said.

The gig, in the 1980s, lasted for three years.

This was right around when his eldest son, Bobby, was getting ready to start playing at the minor hockey level and Roy wanted to spend less time away from home and more time watching his own son play.

But that didn’t stop Roy’s involvement in the game.

He turned his focus to junior hockey in B.C., building a Centennial Cup-winning team with the Richmond Sockeyes.

There was also a stint with the New Westminster Royals, a team which lost only three games the entire season.

A proponent of a good college education, Roy’s next venture was creating Global Sports Scouting Services Inc. 20 years ago.

“There was a need for helping kids get scouted by the NCAA,” he explained about the business venture.

What began with about 90 or so kids looking to get scouted in Burnaby has grown to include camps in Las Vegas and Chicago.

About 1,150 players — peewee, bantam, midget and junior — are registered for the camp this year.

And now comes the latest venture: owning a team.

“It is all about giving something back to the community and the hockey people,” Roy said.

“Sports are wonderful when you are giving kids an opportunity to maybe go off to college.”

Both sons will play integral but different roles with the Rivermen.

Bobby, a former captain of the Chiefs who went on to play at the NCAA level, is an assistant coach and one of the main recruiters.

Both also had roles with Global Sports Scouting.

Taylor, whose minor hockey days ended after peewee, is handling the business aspect of the team.

“I have always been interested in sports marketing, so this was a natural fit,” Taylor explained.

“And it is the family business, you watch it evolve and it is really exciting.”

The fact Bobby wound up behind the bench is no big surprise.

“I pretty much grew up in the hockey rink,” he said, talking about being a stick boy for the junior clubs his dad ran.

“And even when I was still playing, I knew I wanted to be a coach.”

Following his playing days at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Bobby admitted to being burned out.

“I just wasn’t having fun at the rink, I knew I needed a break away from it,” he said.

What he did do was coach a team of 12-year-olds, which he called rewarding.

“Young guys are like sponges, you could teach them so much at that age,” Bobby said.

Roy sees himself in Bobby, marveling at the way his eldest recruits.

Taylor takes after his uncle John, a chartered accountant, for his business savvy.

Roy loves the fact that he gets to work with his sons.

The key is for everyone to know their roles.

“Anytime you have family working together in a business, it is great, but it has its challenges,” Taylor warned. “Communication can be an issue sometimes, establishing the ‘dad’ hat and the ‘boss’ hat and the ‘son’ hat and the ‘employee’ hat.

“In our family, everyone knows their roles in the Global business and now the Rivermen,” he added.

“We know what has to be done.”

The Rivermen are holding a press conference on Thursday (June 2) at the Langley Events Centre, where the team will announce a new head coach as well as some player signings

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