TOLEDO, Ohio — The Walleye are getting set to play in the Kelly Cup Finals Friday night against Florida in Game 1.
For a couple of the veteran guys on this team, they know this could be the last hockey they play and they're trying to soak in every moment.
TJ Hensick has played in over 900 professional hockey games. Over 100 of those were played in the NHL. He's now 36-years-old and right now, this could be the last season he plays.
John Albert is in a similar spot in his career. He's now 33 years old. This year he came to Toledo as a player/coach. Both are trying to enjoy these moments because you just never know when it could be over.
"It's in the back of your mind for sure. You can't really think about it because you have such a big challenge in front of you here in the finals," said Hensick. "You try not to take it for granted. You never know when that last day is. Luckily for me at this point, I know it's going to be the last series of the year so that's a huge plus. It's going to be fun, it's going to be exciting. I expect this place to be as energetic and crazy as it's been and just soak it in for sure."
"My rookie year we went to the Eastern Conference finals and in my third year I went to the Calder Cup finals and ended up losing in the finals," said Albert. "It's lessons like that that bring me here now later in my career that how much I appreciate how much I love being around the boys. How much I love the crowd. How everything that everything happening right now is what you love about hockey and why you want to play hockey."
There are so many similarities about where these two are in their careers. Those similarities have brought them closer together on and off the ice.
"Roommates on the road. Played against each other quite a bit in our careers in the American League. Older guys for sure," said Hensick. "Families have gotten to know each other too over the year and my son's really taking a liking to Johnny. It's been fun, it's been a perfect scenario for me. Friendship's been built for sure."
"I've known TJ for years, played against him for a while, skated with him a few summers back. We were more of acquaintances at the time and then throughout this year it's been incredible," said Albert. "He's one of my favorite people in the entire world. We do pretty much everything together. He's a role model on and off the ice. He's got a wonderful family, wonderful kids. I couldn't say enough good things about him."
Dan Watson believes both guys have what it takes to be coaches in the future, but for now, they're worried about bringing a Kelly Cup to Toledo.