Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
This was the Matt Hendricks’ year. This was the year that he broke out of his small, specific role and became a real contributor. This was the year that he made NHL goalies and women everywhere swoon with his dazzling shootout moves. This was the year that the most significant story about him was not centered around a ghastly eye injury.
Heck, he’s even got an RMNB t-shirt now. If that’s not the big time, we don’t know what is.
Cap Hit: $825,000. Hendricks is signed through 2012-13, and will be UFA on expiration of that contract.
Milestones: Hendricks played a career high in both regular season and playoffs games, and also scored his first NHL playoffs goal and assist.
I know that’s a lot of best moments. We’re considering changing this category to “Best Existence” in Matt Hendricks’ case.
Things We Said About Matt Hendricks:“Matt Hendricks + RMNB = <3″
Alignment: Chaotic Good
First Irrelevant Google Images Result:
Spirit Animal: Mountain lion.
Alternate Universe Superhero Identity: The Paralyzer
Team Role: Hendricks was expected to play on the fourth line, contribute some secondary scoring, and drop the gloves when it was needed.
Execution of that Role: Hendricks is another one of those who blossomed under the coaching change, fitting well into Hunter’s gritty, defensive system and slowly raising his value within the team from enforcer role to a vital shutdown player. He also wowed with his snazzy shootout move, going 5-for-6 in the skills contest, though his overall offense dipped sharply this year, which wasn’t exactly what Hendricks had wanted.
Postseason Performance: We’re pretty sure Matt Hendricks was given some kind of super soldier serum in the short break between the regular season and the playoffs, because the guy was on another level the moment the first puck dropped in Round One. He hit with a vengeance, excelled at faceoffs, killed important penalties, and even scored that crucial first goal in the Game Seven win against Boston.
Hendricks cheated a little by starting to grow his beard before the postseason, but we’re going to call that confidence in his team. Four out of ten.
Likeliness to Return: Eight out of ten. Matt Hendricks is inexpensive, useful, and has become a fan favorite around here.
Usefulness in a Post-Apocalyptic Setting: Hendricks is tough, gritty, and knows how to get his hands dirty. We already know that he fishes and hunts in his free time — if we could ascertain that he knew how to use a halberd, he’d be a ten out of ten.
Other: We’d like to thank the guy who taught Hendy that move. We’d really, really like to thank him.
Overall Year-End Rating: Eight Good Sashas.