Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Hendricks the Hero

As you all know, during Oilers home games, two Canadian military personnel are honoured and "Hendricks' Heroes" is displayed on the screen which shows the player giving jerseys to those who serve.  It is always a proud moment for our city and even though the player is from the U.S., he still felt it necessary to do such a thing.

So if there is one player I will miss more than any that have departed the Oilers over the past 11 years besides Smytty (although he did return) it's Matt Hendricks.

When then-GM Craig MacTavish traded goalie Devan Dubnyk to Nashville for Matt Hendricks I thought, "Who is this guy?  I've never heard of him."

Then he started playing and he brought that toughness the team so desperately needed.  And by toughness, I mean sacrifice.  Never afraid to drop the gloves.

Never afraid to block a shot.  Never afraid to check a guy into his bench.  He was the sort of player you could not help but love.  And don't forget "The Paralyzer" shootout deke move he patented.  Or yes, the puck to the jewels he took even at a time when the team had no hope of making the playoffs.

Edmonton Journal stalwart Oilers guy Jim Matheson wrote a nice departing article about Hendo here.  Jim is correct when he says Hendricks will likely become a coach.  He's got that respect, locker room presence, and knowledge of the details of the game that will benefit the players that play for him.

The Oilers video at the beginning of the home game shows Hendricks holding his child at home and then training with a quick clip of him screaming at the camera.  It gives me chills.  It always will.  It shows he knows what it means to be a father and to sacrifice.

Courtesy Edmonton Oilers

Courtesy Edmonton Oilers

During the playoff run, when I saw video clips of Hendo in the Oilers locker, fully dressed in uniform and gear, going by each player and pumping them up, I wondered that this was a bit odd for a benched player to be doing this.  

But the iced players wanted him there.  It just goes to show what Mark Messier said a year ago is so very true.

"It's very simple. No individual can win a championship on his own. It's just that simple. You need a lot of support, you need a lot of people thinking the same way, all in alignment. You need the heart and the dedication and the character to make it happen.
"We realized that. When you win, the stage is big enough for everybody. You've got to make everybody feel that their contributions are just as important as the next guy's no matter whether it's 30 minutes a game or two minutes a game. Everybody's got to feel that they're important.
"If they don't bring their best every game, you have zero chance of winning there. We were able to convince everybody that came here that they were important and we needed them."
Mark Messier
at the Farewell to Rexall Place Ceremony

As he's a UFA on July 1 and unlikely he'll be resigned with the Oilers, we can only wish Matt Hendricks well on signing with another team.

He gave it all every game and when he arrived, he brought character to a team that didn't have any, And as fans, we should be grateful and thank him for his sacrifice and his time as an Oiler.

For me, he'll always be Hendricks the Hero.

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