WINNIPEG - Numerous Winnipeg Jets will be making their preseason debuts against the Edmonton Oilers at Bell MTS Place this evening, including former Oiler Matt Hendricks.
Hendricks signed a one-year deal worth $700,000 with the Jets in the summer, and even though this is just another preseason game for him, he'spretty excited.
"I get to put on another jersey tonight, a cool looking sweater in my opinion," Hendicks said half jokingly. "I get to get into a real game tonight with my teammates and teach them what they're all about. I get to hear the coaching staff go through their pre-game meeting and kind of see how things are run here, and try and get comfortable that way. It's nice to finally get to play a home game at MTS instead of always been a visiting (player)."
Speaking of putting on another jersey, joining a new team means new swag for the Hendricks family and that has his kids, five and a half year old twins, son Gunnar and daughter Lennon, thrilled about the fact they will be adding to their collection.
"They're excited, my son he loves hockey, he loves the jerseys," Hendricks beamed.
Asked about the origin of his kids' names, Hendricks had a riveting explanation.
"My mom is 100 per cent Swede. So Gunnar stands for warrior and my wife (Kimberly) and I are both fans of the Beatles. That's not really why (for Lennon) but we just popped that name up and we liked it and thought it would be unique. She's very unique in her own right and it suits her well."
As for tonight's game, Hendricks will be going up against the Oilers, who he spent the past three and a half seasons with, and he admitted it will be challenging.
"It's always hard going up against (former teammates) for the first, maybe the second time," said Hendricks. "But it's part of the job, too. There's going to be a lot of friendly faces on the other side of the ice tonight, but you've got to put that out of your mind and look at them as an opponent."
Even in his short time with the Jets organization, his impact on the team has been noticeable, according to Head Coach Paul Maurice.
"Matt Hendricks for me has already made the players around him better," explained Maurice. "He has completely embraced the role of that bottom six forward guy that role player. So he practices differently than some of our younger bottom six guys who still practice like they are on the number one line on their junior or their college teams. You can see in the guys who skate on his wings, they are the guys he kind of works with on the ice. They do everything as hard as they can and practice is the place where they drive the pace."