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Stadium Series

Series highlights busy weekend for Hendrickson

Wild assistant, a Minnesota native, returns to his hockey roots

by Dan Myers / Correspondent

RICHFIELD, Minn. -- Forgive Darby Hendrickson for feeling a little nostalgic this weekend.

It will be a busy few days for Hendrickson, an assistant coach for the Minnesota Wild, who host the Chicago Blackhawks in a 2016 Coors Light Stadium Series game at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

Hendrickson's schedule, beginning Friday and extending through the Wild's game against the New York Islanders on Tuesday, will provide the bookends for his hockey career.

In between, Hendrickson will take part in the alumni game on the campus of his alma mater Saturday before his day job takes center stage the next day.

"From Richfield today to the University of Minnesota [on Saturday], that's pretty special," Hendrickson said.

His hockey homecoming came full circle Friday when Hendrickson joined the rest of Minnesota's alumni team for one last on-ice session at Richfield Ice Arena, about a 15-minute drive from TCF Bank Stadium.

The arena is where Hendrickson got his start as a star at Richfield High School, winning the Mr. Hockey Award as the state's top high school player in 1991.

Though a lot has changed since Hendrickson played here, not much has with the old barn itself.

"I grew up here. A great rink, still," Hendrickson said. "A lot of old memories surfaced [coming back on the ice]."

The opportunity to play with many of the players on Minnesota's alumni team is a dream come true for Hendrickson, who grew idolizing several North Stars. Met Center, the North Stars' home rink, was just down the road in Bloomington and he often went to games as a kid.

"A lot of these guys were guys you wanted to be like when you were a kid, to somehow reach their level," Hendrickson said. "That void, when the North Stars left [in 1993], kids didn't have that anymore. When they left, everybody lost a little bit."

A fourth-round pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1990 NHL Draft, Hendrickson spent two seasons at the University of Minnesota playing for coach Doug Woog and was a part of the final squad to play at the old Mariucci Arena, before the team moved across the street to its current location.

Old Mariucci and the school's 23-year old replacement, also called Mariucci Arena, are centerpieces of the skyline view out of TCF Bank Stadium's open west end zone.

"It brings you back to a great part of your life," Hendrickson said.

The Wild have struggled for much of the past month, and coach Mike Yeo was fired last Saturday. But Minnesota swept a road trip through Western Canada under interim coach John Torchetti and will roll into the Stadium Series game on a three-game winning streak.

With a better feeling in the dressing room, Hendrickson said he will be able to appreciate the weekend a lot more.

"We've been away for the last week so you don't really get a chance to feel the buzz around town," Hendrickson said. "But now you see it, the guys trickling in, the families coming in to take part in the skates. It's really cool."

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