|EDMONTON, AB - MARCH 1: Matt Hendricks #23 of the Edmonton Oilers lands a hit on Markus Granlund #60 of the Calgary Flames on March 1, 2014 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images) |
is never short on try. He understands what to do and when to do it. If there were a course for gamesmanship Hendricks just might be the teacher. The winger is a prime example. If you can't judge a book by its cover then you certainly can't always judge a player by his numbers or at least offensive numbers. In Matt Hendricks
’ case, it's his big body of work that needs dissecting if you want to look at the many things the 'Hendy Man' does for the Oilers.
What happened in Philadelphia was a perfect example of Hendricks getting a temperature of the game and when he's needed to try and make a difference. After a gorgeous end-to-end rush and goal by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Luke Schenn came back 1:07 later to once again give Philadelphia a three-goal lead. Exactly all of 29 seconds after that, Hendricks and Zac Rinaldo dropped the gloves. Did Hendricks want to fight? Maybe better put did Hendricks need to fight? The answer probably lies somewhere in between. To him, it was a necessity to try and jump start the team. It doesn't always work which makes what the Minnesotan does even more impressive. If something always succeeds then it's easy to do it. When you're not sure if it will have the desired impact is when you get a further appreciation of what the 33 year old does for the Oilers.
When Edmonton acquired him from Nashville in a deal involving Devan Dubnyk it looked, on the surface, to be a curious one. The Oilers sending away a former first-round pick who was their number-one goalie for in essence a role player. Hendricks had played in Colorado, Washington and Nashville. In 307 NHL games prior to joining Edmonton Hendricks had potted 29 goals, 33 assists and 419 penalty minutes. Those numbers suggest a bottom-six forward with some offence and no fear of physical play. An element that Edmonton was searching for but had to give up a netminder to get. Again, I remind you not to judge a player solely by his offensive numbers. It's unfair to do that with Hendricks. He's a player about more than what comes under the G, the A and the Pts.
He'll fight and he's often asked, along with Boyd Gordon and Jesse Joensuu, to shadow the other team's top line. He leads the team in penalty minutes and not surprisingly in hits. Where I think he's the biggest hit of all is with his teammates and in the room. We don't see what happens behind closed doors but Hendricks looks like a natural born leader. He'll do so with his words and his actions. I can't imagine when Hendricks has the floor that everyone isn't silent and hangs on his every word. Character is a quality that doesn't show up on the stats sheet but shows up in the room and on the ice. From day one Hendricks, without being brash, cocky or arrogant, has come onto the team and taken a leadership role. Not an easy thing to do when you're 'the new guy'. He does what he can when he can to help the team as only a 'Hendy Man' could do.