Oilers players revere leadership and impact of their "Glue Guy"
Around the Oilers dressing room, Matt Hendricks is revered as an unsung Glue Guy and consummate proby Chris Wescott / EdmontonOilers.com Head Writer
Throughout the post-season, stories emerge of surprise impacts and the most unsung of heroes.
Grinders score game-winners.
Skilled skaters deliver a game-changing hit.
A sacrificial blocked shot springs a breakaway or preserves the game.
While the Edmonton Oilers have gotten their own share of on-ice impacts so far in these playoffs, one of their most appreciated comes from a man who has yet to play a shift.
Those in the room - without hesitation - name Matt Hendricks as the "Glue Guy" helping keep the ship afloat.
"Honestly, he's been unbelievable."
Strong, yet sincere, words from one of the best players in the game and team captain Connor McDavid.
"To see him come to the rink every day and have the energy he does and do everything he does for our team, it's amazing really."
Hendricks, a veteran with more than 500 NHL regular season games and 34 post-season appearances under his belt, has always been the consummate professional, a media favourite for his eloquent insight and one of the hardest workers on the roster.
"The biggest thing for him is his work ethic and how he comes to the rink every day and leads by example," said Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse. "Whenever he speaks about working hard or doing the right things every day, it's easy to listen him."
And the players do listen.
"When you have a guy who has played that many games, and you see him in and out of the lineup but see how he conducts himself every day, that right there is the definition of a good player," said winger Zack Kassian.
"He's the most selfless player I've probably ever played with. He might not be in the lineup but he cares about his teammates and he still wants us to do well. That right there shows what type of person he is."
From taking warmup just to be around his teammates and to keep things light during the calm before the storm, to his energetic jaunt around the dressing room and pre-game pep talks, Hendricks' presence has been felt this post-season.
"He gets the boys fired up before games," said Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot. "That's a character guy you need in this room and an unselfish guy. That's the best way to put it. It's a tough situation for him, and he comes in every day, works hard and gets the guys going. Those are the kind of guys we need."
Player after player expressed their admiration of Hendricks.
"I can't say enough good things about him," McDavid said.
"He is huge for our team," Kassian added.
"Hendo is the definition of the Glue Guy," Nurse offered.
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The "Glue Guy" is the ingredient, which helps hold the team together. For the Oilers, it's the man who keeps everyone energized and levelheaded through the ups and downs of a series.
Hendricks is lauded for his ability to keep the energy up in the room and the mood around the team positive, be they up in the series, down, or coming off a win or loss. He evens things out and keeps his guys focused.
"He keeps it light, but he's a guy who lets you know if you need to do things a certain way or if you need wake-up calls or he tells you what you're doing well," said Kassian. "He's really there as a motivator. He pretty much does everything except play as of right now. He's definitely a Glue Guy on this team."
Kassian says Hendricks is someone who players have requested nearby, no matter what names are on the lineup card.
"The players ask him, if he's not playing, to still be in the room for us," he said. "That right there shows what type of person he is and what type of influence he has on this team."
It's a wonder that someone can have so much impact on his peers from a distance.
"I'm not surprised," said Nurse. "I've been around him for a few years and went to a couple camps with him before I made the team. He's been the same way every year and hasn't changed one bit.
"He brings a work ethic I've never seen before. Any time you have a guy that brings that combination, he's definitely one of those Glue Guys who keeps the team upright."
Leadership and influence come from all sorts of people. For the Oilers, they have and will continue to draw it from a consummate professional.
"He's someone I look up to and have since I came to Edmonton," said McDavid. "He's such a great guy in the room, a great leader and person. We're lucky to have him for sure."