Video: CAMP | The Bow Hunter
WINNIPEG - Shawn Matthias may have a new off-ice hobby, thanks to new teammate Matt Hendricks.
"I hung out with Hendricks the other day and Big Buff, we went and shot some arrows, and I now have a bow. I don't know why, but I have a bow now," said Matthias. "I guess I have to learn how to hunt now."
Hendricks, 36, picked up the sport during his four seasons in Edmonton, before signing his one-year deal with the Winnipeg Jets on August 26.
"(He's) figuring out how to use it, and how to hit the bullseye. It's a lot of fun," said Hendricks. "It's something to kind of take your mind away from the game a bit, shoot some targets, and enjoy it. It's something you can pass down to your kids."
The Minnesota native is no stranger to getting his teammates out to have some fun away from the rink. While with the Oilers, he and seven teammates took a trip to CFB Wainwright, and participated in a number of military exercises.
"It just brings you closer together. You look at your teammates as someone you go to work with every day," said Hendricks. "The most successful teams, they're like brothers at the end of the day. As the season progresses, and you make your run to the playoffs, and you get into the playoffs, and you're battling for the guy next to you more than anything else. When you can build that kind of camaraderie early in the season, it can only propel you."
Hendricks' father served in the US Marine Corps, which led he and his fiancée to support a program called Defending the Blue Line during the 2008-2009 season.
The program has since expanded outside of hockey to baseball, soccer, basketball, and football, and aims to help military families with the costs associated with having their children in sports.
"One of my favourite things is when their parents come back from Afghanistan or overseas for their (rest and relaxation), we try to get them to a game," he said. "We try to get them four tickets for their significant other and their kids. honour them at the game, get them in the locker room, maybe get them autographs from their favourite players and such. It's the best feeling."
Video: CAMP | Matt Hendricks
Head coach Paul Maurice was well aware of what Hendricks brought off the ice when he came to camp. But he saw the impact the veteran can have on the ice during today's skate. In fact, he divided up the jerseys in a way to put a young, "grinding" group together, and Matt Hendricks was in that group.
"If you closed your eyes and listened to one of the drills, it was real quiet at one end, and there was a lot of banging at the other, and that was the end Matt was in," said Maurice. "He worked in that practice from start to finish. He's that kind of pro. It's almost so old school, that all the players in that end realized that's what it takes to be a consistent pro in that bottom six hole.
"There's no sense playing there thinking 'I'm just waiting until the top six opens up.' If you take a program out, our top six is pretty young. There's nobody retiring any time soon. To play in that bottom six, it's more than just 'I'm a really skilled guy' or 'I'm a grinder.' It's the every day of it…. To play on that bottom six you have to be there every night. That's what he does."
Video: CAMP | Paul Maurice
With 521 games on his resume, Hendricks knows what it takes to be a pro. After shooting all those arrows in Edmonton, he's also the right guy to help Matthias with his new hobby.
"He told me he's taking me under his wing and teaching me how to hunt. I have the bow now, I just have to get all the camouflage gear, and all that fun stuff and try to pretend to be a hunter for a couple months here," Matthias said of Hendricks. "It's good though to have teammates like that that take you under their wing, and push your comfort zone and show you new things in life, and also embrace what's to offer here in Winnipeg. I love playing here, my fiance loves it here, and the guys are great. We enjoy our time here, and it's fun to try different things that you normally wouldn't."
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com