Hendricks Hopes to Make Home Here

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel

Ten summers ago, the Nashville Predators spent a fifth-round draft choice on forward Matt Hendricks in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. A week past his 19th birthday at the time, Hendricks had just finished his senior season at Blaine High (where he also played baseball and football) in his hometown of Blaine, Minn and was set to embark on a collegiate hockey career at St. Cloud St. A decade later, Hendricks has played pro hockey in eight different cities. Only one of those eight stops was in the NHL. Hendricks is hoping to make it nine cities and two in the NHL with Washington this season, and he took a significant step toward that goal today when he signed a one-year, two-way pact with the Caps. “I’m very excited,” says Hendricks. “It’s kind of hard to explain in words. I’m very happy, very excited to be back in this organization.” One of Hendricks’ six different stops in the AHL alone was in Hershey, where he played for Caps coach Bruce Boudreau in 2006-07. Hendricks scored 18 goals for the Bears in the regular season that year and added eight more in the playoffs as Hershey advanced to the Calder Cup final. It wasn’t until March 10, 2009 – when Hendricks was a few months shy of his 28th birthday – that he finally achieved his dream of playing in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche. He spent the entire 2009-10 season with the Avs, getting into 56 games and scoring nine goals. Hendricks played all three forwards positions for the Avs last season, and he registered those nine goals (and 16 points) despite logging less than 10 minutes a night in average ice time. Only six players in the NHL recorded 10 goals and 10 fights last season, and they all played more games than Hendricks, who narrowly missed being the seventh in that group (nine goals, 10 fights). You’d think that type of player would draw some interest on the open market, but Hendricks was without a deal until the Caps offered a “come to training camp” tryout invitation to him in mid-September. “It’s hard to explain what happened this off-season in free agency,” remarks Hendricks. “There are a lot of players still left out there that remain unsigned, a lot of players looking for opportunities. I was in that same boat. I did expect a little bit more talk throughout the summer months after July 1, but it just wasn’t there.” Now 29, Hendricks has played 60 games in the NHL and 301 games in the minors. He had a hat trick in the Caps’ first pre-season game on Wednesday in Columbus and followed that with a solid physical effort on Saturday in Nashville. Even with two good games under his belt, Hendricks knows he can’t afford to be complacent. Washington’s training camp roster is teeming with depth at the forward position. “I think they’ve seen enough out of me to want me back in their organization,” says Hendricks. “Not necessarily have they seen enough for me to make the Washington Capitals. But it’s a stepping-stone. I’m closer to my goal to sticking here and staying in Washington.” The deal doesn’t mean Hendricks has made the team’s opening night roster, but it does make it very likely he will be in the organization this season. Wherever he ends up, he’ll be a versatile asset. “I’m the type of player that no matter what my role is in a game, no matter how much ice time I get, at the end of it, I want to be able to say I changed the game,” Hendricks asserts. “Sometimes it might be scoring a goal, but for the most part it is the way I play and the grit and the energy I bring for the club.” Ten years ago, Hendricks ranked 54th among all North American skaters in the Central Scouting Bureau’s final rankings for the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. The Predators chose him with the 131st overall pick, and he’s been climbing up a hill ever since. “A lot of people say perseverance,” he says, when asked what the biggest difference is between the Hendricks who began his pro career in Milwaukee late in the 2003-04 season and the one who is vying for a roster berth here in the District this fall. “A lot of people say I fought the hard way. I think it’s just been a combination of motivation and being surrounded by great players and great coaches that have always believed in me, always gave me that feeling that I’m there, that I’m on the cusp of making it to the NHL and [said] ‘You just need to keep working, you need to keep your head to the grindstone’ as they say, and it’s going to work out. Fortunately, it did for me. It doesn’t for everybody. “Is it something I’m happy with? I’m very happy. Am I proud of it? Yeah, I’m proud. I don’t like to use that word very often, but I’m proud of it and it just keeps me more motivated to stay in the league.” The 2000 Entry Draft Scouting Report on Matt Hendricks “A strong, powerful skater with good speed … an unselfish player with strong passing skills and good playmaking ability … has a very good wrist shot … is often used on the power play and the penalty-kill and is used on crucial face-offs … a competitive player who can play very physical … a strong forechecker who works well along the boards and in the corners … a team leader.”

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Late Change In Goal

January 14, 2013

Semyon Varlamov had been slated to start in goal for the Caps tonight. But according to coach Bruce Boudreau, Michal Neuvirth will get the start instead. Dany Sabourin is backing up tonight. “Maintenance, general maintenance,” says Boudreau when asked why Varlamov would not start tonight. “Not

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