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Wellwood and Henrique put friendship on hold

by Adam Kimelman

In a Stanley Cup Playoff series, there are no friendships -- no matter how far back that friendship goes or how much success you've had with that guy on the other team.

That's why the Flyers' Eric Wellwood and the Devils' Adam Henrique have been on radio silence.

Adam Henrique
Adam Henrique
Center - NJD
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 4
SOG: 17 | +/-: 4
"It was right after they beat Florida," Wellwood told "The next day I talked to him and said good job, because he scored the overtime winner. I congratulated him on that. Told him good luck and I hope to see him in the summertime."

"We're not friends right now," Henrique said. "No texts. No communication."

But when they're not playing head-to-head with a chance to advance in the playoffs, the two are extremely close, dating back to when they were 16 and started their junior careers with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League.

"For the last four years we were in Windsor, we pretty much hung out together every day," Wellwood told "He lives in Windsor now so I get to see him in the summertime pretty much every day and we hang out a lot."

Wellwood and Henrique arrived in Windsor as 16-year-olds after being selected by the Spitfires in the 2006 OHL draft -- Henrique in the second round, Wellwood in the fourth. Wellwood, a Windsor native, knew all about Henrique from their days playing minor-midget against each other.

"I always knew who he was," Wellwood said. "He played for Brantford and he was always their best payer, so I always remember playing against him."

Any animosity, Wellwood said, went out the door at their first training camp. Wellwood, Henrique and two other draft picks -- Greg Nemisz and Mark Cundari -- bonded almost immediately.


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"We had a lot of rookies that year, and we were pretty tight," Wellwood said. "It was me, Greg Nemisz, Mark Cundari, Adam Henrique -- we all got drafted the same year and we became best friends."

Wellwood, a Windsor native, said he would visit Henrique on the family farm in rural Burford, Ont., about three hours northeast of Windsor.

"He went back our first two summers, so when we were 16 and 17, I would go visit him," Wellwood said. "He has a farm so we would go on the four-wheelers and hang out."

The bonds built by the teens helped the Spitfires become just the eighth team in the trophy's 93-year history win back-to-back Memorial Cups in 2009 and 2010, with each player making significant contributions. Henrique, centering a line with Dale Mitchell and Taylor Hall, had a team-leading nine points in the 2009 Cup, while Wellwood, playing with Nemisz, had a goal and three assists. In 2010, Henrique finished second to Hall with eight points, while Wellwood, centering Nemisz and Zack Kassian, had two goals and four assists.

"He had a lot of big games -- he was the overtime specialist," Henrique said of Wellwood. "He had some really big goals through in our runs to Cups and he was a big piece why we had success there."

However, Henrique couldn't resist getting a dig in at his buddy.

"He had a bad wrist shot and he'd throw it on net and somehow it would bounce in," Henrique said with a laugh. "It wasn't very good."

Wellwood had his own fond memories of Henrique.

"We make fun of him for not being the brightest guy," Wellwood said. "There's a lot of things that he did that weren't too smart. He's a quiet guy so you can pick on him."

However, there's also a ton of respect that goes into the relationship; each has watched with pride as the other has earned NHL success -- Henrique as a Calder Trophy finalist in New Jersey, Wellwood as a speedy fourth-liner for the Flyers.

"We're good buddies and I'm happy to see he got himself in a good position and he's played and having success," Henrique said. "When you see former teammates that you played with in junior having success, it's nice to see."

Eric Wellwood
Eric Wellwood
Left Wing - PHI
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 10 | +/-: 0
"I'm not surprised," Wellwood said when asked about Henrique's success, saying his friend oftentimes was overshadowed by some of the star players they had in Windsor. "He got a lot of points, but he never was Taylor Hall or Ryan Ellis in junior. Those guys are obviously good players in the NHL as well, but he was never the front-runner to be a really good player. But playing with him, you knew he was good."

They haven't matched up for any significant shifts on the ice, as each player's role is a bit different. But when they have been head-to-head, the pair has tried to treat it as if it was any other player.

"For me he's just another player out there," Wellwood said. "I don't even know he's on the ice."

The friendship that's on pause now will resume following the series. Wellwood said that's also when the fun little digs will start again.

"If we win, I'm sure I'll communicate with him and see how back home is doing," Wellwood said with an impish grin.

He said that's the conversation he's most looking forward to having with Henrique. Especially when he considers how it could go if the Devils win the series.

"That's a great phone call to make if I had to make it to him," Wellwood said. "If he's making it to me, it'll be the worst phone call."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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