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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Season in Review: Matt Hendricks

Matt Hendricks was brought into the nation’s capital in 2010 and almost immediately became a fan favorite.  His nine goals and 25 points complimented with his $575,000 contract made him look like an absolute gem.  He fought, added grit, and always shocked us with the occasional highlight reel play.

He then signed a two year deal, and became our Matt Bradley replacement.  It always seemed like when the team was down, Hendricks brought the guys back to life.  With a fight. With a hit. With a goal.  He really became the backbone of the team.

And what he does outside of the sport we all love is even more impressive.  Hendricks is an avid supporter of Defending the Blue Line, an organization that helps children of military service members play and enjoy hockey.   He supports You Can Play, the organization that offers support for LGBT athletes.  During the NHL lockout, Hendricks went on a USO tour, meeting troops in Bahrain, Germany, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan.  It should come as a surprise to no one that Hendricks was nominated for the Bill Masterton Trophy, which is given to the player who shows true sportsmanship and dedication to the sport, in 2009 and 2011.

The Paralyzer did his job this year.  During our terrible, terrible, start to the season, it was Hendricks who would drop the gloves.  It was Hendricks who would block the shots.  It was Hendricks who would show heart when others just seemed deflated.

His numbers will by no means blow anyone away, but those flashy numbers are not what is expected from him.  He scored five goals and added three assists.  He had the second most blocked shots of the forwards on the team with 31.  Of the regular face off men, he had the highest success rate with 56.8 percent.  He also led the team in penalty minutes and fighting majors, with 73 and seven, respectively.  He’s the prototypical 4th liner.

And I’m worried.  He becomes a free agent this offseason, and I’m not convinced he’s coming back.  With a projected cap space of $6,146,302 this offseason, key pieces that need to be re-signed, and an understandable pay increase for Hendricks, I’m not sure there is room for Hendricks.  Now, that cap space number is surely to change, but that still doesn’t put me at ease.  In April, fellow grinder Aaron Volpatti signed a two-year deal worth $1,150,000.  That signing didn’t make much sense to me, because I simply don’t think Volpatti is a regular for this team.  But, with that signing, including fellow 3rd and 4th liners Jay Beagle, Mathieu Perreault, Eric Fehr, Jason Chimera, Joel Ward and a late season Tom Wilson sighting, is there really any room for Hendricks?

I hope I’m wrong.  It would be a huge mistake if McPhee chooses not to sign Hendricks.  He is a guy with high character, who can pick the team up when they are down, and that is just the type of guy this team needs.

Video Provided By:  Johnathan Doe

Grade:  B

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