MONTREAL - While Oakland A's All-Star pitcher Liam Hendriks calls Sharks Territory home, he's actually a huge Habs fan at heart.
The 30-year-old Australian made that crystal clear during an appearance this past week on the NHL Network show "NHL Now" with broadcasters Jackie Redmond, Mike Johnson and Dave Reid.
Hendriks was first introduced to the sport by his wife, Kristi, a former figure skater, who just happens to be a fan of the 24-time Stanley Cup champions, too.
"It was just the team my wife supported, so we went from there and I kind of ran with it. Now, I've run with it a lot further than she has to the point where I've watched every game," said Hendriks during the 10-minute segment. "I try and catch every game I can. I just got my Max Domi jersey in. I've got my signed P.K. Subban jersey from back in the day, and I've got a signed [Max] Pacioretty hat at the house. I do what I can. I love my autographed stuff. The Canadiens, they're where it's at."
While Hendriks hasn't been to the Bell Centre just yet, he was fortunate enough to be in attendance for the 2016 NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium.
Getting to the facility wasn't easy, but he wasn't going to be denied the opportunity to watch the Original Six matchup against the Boston Bruins outdoors.
"We flew back from Australia, had a wedding in Delaware, left the wedding at 2:30 a.m. to drive to DC to get on a flight to get to Boston in time for the game - to sit outside in 40-degree weather," recounted Hendriks, who enjoyed every single second of the unique event. "It was a great experience. I still wear the Winter Classic stuff that I got at the game. I've got the toque and I've got the jacket and everything like that, so it's a blast."
In October 2015, Hendriks even attended the Maple Leafs' home opener against the Canadiens sporting bleu-blanc-rouge.
He was shown on the scoreboard alongside his then Toronto Blue Jays teammates proudly representing the CH.
"Passion for passion. You're a fan through the thick and the thin. I've embraced the Habs lifestyle," said Hendriks with a smile. "You see [Montrealer and fellow major leaguer] Russell Martin in there not quite having all the Habs stuff on, even though he's a Canadiens fan. We were actually watching every game we could on the bus. They were playing the Senators in the playoffs, and we had it on the iPad watching it as much as we could."
Admittedly, Hendriks isn't the smoothest of skaters at the moment. Some improvements have to be made in that department.
But if he could play like one of Claude Julien's troops, he'd go about his business like a certain warrior we already know quite well.
"To be honest, I feel like I'd be more along the lines of a [Brendan] Gallagher, just annoying everybody, just kind of a gnat in front of the net. He just sits there," cracked Hendriks, before paying Gallagher's playing style another compliment and chiming in with some self-deprecating humor at the same time. "He's just annoying as all hell, which apparently I am, according to most people."
Well, we think you're pretty darn cool, Liam, and we're looking forward to having you and Kristi at the Bell Centre someday soon.
Support for Australia
Liam and Kristi are supporting the Australian Red Cross in their bushfire disaster relief efforts.
Click here to learn more about the organization's ongoing work to assist people affected by the fires.
Click here to donate and help.