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PRINCIPE: General Body Soreness

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Matt Hendricks celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks. Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club

Kevin Quinn is my friend and coworker and he may have come up with the best ever handle, moniker or nickname for a player. For the last few games, the Sportsnet announcer has been calling Matt Hendricks ‘General Body Soreness,’ a magnificent play on words that so aptly describes Hendricks. It ties in his commitment to the military but also his commitment to his team and the lumps, bumps, bruises, cuts, scrapes, and broken protective cups that all resulted in him having body soreness. I cannot remember a player in recent history that has spent so much time not looking or feeling well but still giving it everything he has for his team.

When Edmonton had its Canadian Armed Forces Appreciation night last Saturday it was mean to solute the soldiers who work tirelessly for our country. Putting their safety on the line for the betterment of those around them. A commitment from them to all of us that they will give their best in order to try and make our lives a little easier. Well, being in the army, navy, air force or marines isn't like being in the NHL. If you look up the above description and spun that into a way to describe an Oiler, I think Matt Hendricks would be the first name to come to mind. You could replace soldier with player and country with team and take it from there.

Before I get any of our men and women who serve our country thinking taking a bullet is the same as taking a shot, I clearly understand the grave difference between the two. The point I'm trying to make is Matt takes a military approach to his work. That's why he has 'Hendy's Heroes' before so many home games where he and his wife Kim provide jerseys, dinner, seats and a pre-game meet-and-greet for military personnel. His father was a man of uniform in the United States Marines and now Matt just wears a different uniform with the same principles in mind.

The winger is a perfect example of a player who can't be judged by his stats. I honestly believe that if Hendricks didn't have a goal or an assist a coach could still justify putting him in the lineup every single game. It's everything else he does on the ice, the bench and in the room. There are born leaders and Hendricks is one of them. He's a guy you'd like to have beside you in a foxhole or on the bench because it’s guaranteed your back would be covered. It's been a tough, physical season for Hendricks. Sticks and pucks to the face and eye area, among an assortment of season-long suffering that comes with playing as hard as the 33-year-old does every single game. It's not easy, but Hendricks isn't complaining.

That's why it was so nice to see Hendricks get a goal on Friday night. Again, just like the military who go about their work not looking for praise and recognition sometimes it's nice to be noticed and honoured for your dedication. Such was the case after he put away the insurance marker in a 2-0 win over Vancouver. When talking to him after the game I couldn't help but notice the cut by one eye after absorbing a Troy Browuwer hit on Wednesday against St.Louis. There was also some other bruising and swelling on his face. Just another day and game in the life of General Body Soreness.

-Gene Principe
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