Hendy signs his new four-year contract with Nashville. (Photo credit: @MattHendy26)

Matt “The Wagon” Hendricks has signed a four-year contract with the Nashville Predators for $1.85 million a year. That’s quite a payday for a grinder who three years ago had an uncertain future in the big league. Back in 2010 George McPhee invited Matt Hendricks to training camp on a hunch and signed him on the spot. Hendricks has been a solid fourth liner for the Capitals ever since, dropping the gloves in a few epic fights, and stunning goalies in shootout attempts. Those bona fides have made Hendricks a fan-favorite, so we invited our readers to share their favorite Hendricks stories.

This is a good one.

Mike B. lives in Fort Myers and has been a Hendy fan since his Everblades days:

My best memory of Matt Hendricks was from this past season, I went to a Capitals vs. Lightning game. Hendricks played for our ECHL team here, the Florida Everblades, I wore my caps jersey, but I brought my Everblades jersey. I got to the arena for warm-ups and held up my Blades jersey to show support for Hendricks, by far my player to have played for the Blades. From all the way across the rink, he looks over, sees the jersey, nods and winks at me, takes a shot on goal, then skates by me and smacks the glass. That acknowledgment alone was awesome, and by far my favorite Wagon memory. Best in-game moment has to be any one of his amazing shots in a shoot out, especially against Tim Thomas.

Sam C. wrote something so inappropriate we cannot publish it. But it made us giggle.

Melissa B. is the biggest Hendricks fan I know:


Hendy was unlike any player I had ever seen before. He came to Washington on a tryout and every night he proved people wrong– that he wasn’t just “another 4th liner.” Over the past few seasons, he became not only my favorite player, but my role model. Always give 110%, never give up on your dreams, and fight like hell. I know this is going to be super embarrassing, but I may have shed a few tears when I first met him in 2011.

Manuel A. has a jersey conundrum and a bunch of redacted F-bombs:

Having not been a Caps fan for that long, I needed to understand the game and I needed a player to stick with and follow. . . I focused on Matt Hendricks, who just had this bravado of “I don’t care who you are.” His heart was so big that it seemed like you just needed a team of Paralyzers to be a game-winning team. And when he froze the Bruins goalie, that solidified it.

It’s unfortunate. Joe B chose Hendricks over Ribeiro when I asked him what shirt I should get. Now, it’s another Caps shirt I can’t wear anymore. Regardless, I’m glad he’s stacking cheese somewhere and hopefully brings a six-pack of whoop-ass.

Wade H. sees the Wagon as a good role model for his kids:

I am going to miss him. I own a red custom Hendricks Jersey, and I will probably get a Predators one (to hang up, not wear– ever.). He is one of the guys that I am going to point to when watching hockey with my young boys, and say ‘Him, you want to play like him, be a man in all that you do.’ That’s the Hendricks way.

I hope we can replace him with someone of that character. Who knows– maybe Tom Wilson is a more skilled Hendricks.

I just know that I will miss seeing him play.

Alex N. goes with the classic:

My favorite Matt “The Paralyzer” “Wagon” Hendricks memory has to be when he dangled Tim Thomas and Thomas fell down. Then Thomas fell down again after Brooks won the shootout. That was hysterical. I guess any of his shootout moves though; he made goalies look clueless out there. Gonna miss that guy in Caps red, best wishes to him in Nashville.

Megan A. brags about her awesome seats and we’re envious:


I went to a game in 2012, and had VIP row A seats in section 113.  Every TV timeout or anytime there was a break on the ice, Hendy would skate over to our section with his mouthguard hanging out to loud applause. I met him and his wife a few times in the Coaches Club; they’re both unbelievably nice people.  This signing makes me sad, but it’s great for him to finally get the notice, attention, and money that he deserves. Couldn’t happen to a better guy.

Chris B. has another jersey problem:


Too much talent and too many fan favorites have been shown the door by GM GM the last three years. When I ordered my custom jersey last year (see attached pic), I didn’t think for a second that the Paralyzer would be allowed to leave DC. Sad, sad day.

Samnang K. USMC identifies with Matt’s work ethic:

sam and hendy

Man, I can’t believe he is gone. He is literally the reason I loved hockey so much. I a pretty new hockey fan from Alexandria. I got into the sport after coming home after my 5th deployment overseas, hanging out with my buddy who was a long-time Caps fan, so the passion rubbed off. Hockey seemed like a sport I could get into. Serving in the Marines was rough at times, and the things these guys did on the ice made my job look easy. Matt Hendricks was one of those dudes who inspired just by doing what he does, work hard no matter what. It’s something I can relate to.

[. . .]

His on ice play and his dedication to his family and to the troops is admirable to say the least, and he has proven to be an excellent ambassador to the sport. I’m getting ready to head back to Iraq on contracting gig, and I finally managed to buy myself my first team sweater, and of course the number was 26. I think I can speak for most of the people that hang around KCI that the players are always kind and courteous even though there are literally people stalking their cars for autographs. I never take that access for granted and always appreciate it when you can see a superstar athlete be genuinely happy to talk and mingle with the fans. He signed my #26 hockey sweater as my girlfriend snapped a pic, and though I am close to his age with 5 deployments overseas going on a 6th, I felt like a kid meeting a superstar and was honored to shake his hand.

Ben S. name-drops Matt Bradley in an obvious and successful appeal to me:

I liked Matt Bradley because the dude didn’t take anyone’s crapola… no matter how many pints of blood they made him bleed. The guy defined work ethic. He didn’t coast, he worked hard. He protected his captain, he scored geometrically impossible goals, and I bought his jersey during the off-season the year McPhee let him go to Florida.

Fine. Whatever. Even though he’s probably collecting disability now, I still wear his jersey when we play Florida. Out of respect.

Naturally, Matt Hendricks (Bradley’s worthy replacement) won me over the following season. You might call it a man-crush. His Minnesota-ness, his total willingness to run into peoples’ fists with his face, the fact that he never played a game he didn’t care about, his respect for the game, and again… the work ethic.

So my wife bought me his jersey. Naturally.

I love the Washington Capitals, but I feel like McPhee is shipping out the gritty glue of this team for polished talent who tend to lack leadership skills and discipline. The fans will miss Hendy, the special teams will miss Hendy, the emotionally low points of next season will miss him, and I know the locker room will miss him too.

Here is someone named Tom W:

Dave H. talks about Hendy’s dad mojo:


My wife and I went to see Hendricks at a sports memorabilia store in the local mall. Hendy was my favorite player on the team so naturally I wanted to get his autograph. I was holding our daughter at the time and struggling with a few other things in my hands. Hendy reached out and said “Give her to me”.  So I handed my daughter to him. At that time she had a horrible fear of strangers. But she took one look at him and started smiling. His twins are six months older than my daughter, and I think she could tell instinctively that he’s a dad.  Attached is a picture of me holding my daughter alongside Hendy.

Thanks, everybody. If you’ve got any more Hendricks stories, share them in the comments.

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  • Freedoooom

    He was just a fourth liner, he proved no one wrong.

    Whenever he played higher in the lineup, he loved stealing passes that was so obviously meant to go to Ovechkin.

    He’s not worth more than 800k, he was the most replaceable person on this roster.

  • Can’t wait to see how many times this gets downvoted.

  • Freedoooom

    Don’t even care. The guy is getting 1.8m to be a fourth liner. That’s all he ever was.

    I’m still pissed about this:


    That’s an insult to Backstrom, he really thought Backstrom missed him by that much.

  • Jennyboh
  • A million times yes.

  • djlotus

    Just another example of GMGMs mismanagement biting us in the ass. He may have stayed if Mc”can’t build a team properly” had made him a decent offer. i guess you can let this happen if you know your owner is more clueless than you and wont ever fire you.

    Good for Hendricks. I hope nothing but the best for him. He will be playing next year when our guys are golfing.

  • Freedoooom

    He’s signed 1.85m per year for 4 years. In what world do you think McPhee should of signed him for that…

  • oryp

    Not long after he came here, I was at Kettler with my dad and I decided to wait around for autographs, and out comes Matt Hendricks. I barely knew anything about him at the time, but I could tell from the wild enthusiasm of those around me that he was something special. I passed him my jersey and am now so pleased to have The Wagon’s autograph. Great guy all around.

  • boom boom

    I’m just going to say right now… I don’t like you

  • djlotus

    Can you read? Did I say he should have made that offer? I said maybe he would have stayed if GMGM made him a decent offer. All news suggests we didn’t make him any offer. More to the point, GMGMs mismanagement prevented us from making a decent offer.

    In your world, is it feasible to build a team of only top 6 forwards? In the real world it isn’t. You need character guys who play tough every single shift. Hendo was that guy. He deserved a raise.

  • Freedoooom

    Don’t care. Hendricks isn’t worth 1.85m and nor was Nystrom worth 2.5m. Both are 4th liners.

    Any denial that Hendricks is a normal 4th liner would be ridiculous, every time he was put higher up, he got selfish and thought he was a sniper.

  • Freedoooom

    Can you read?

    Its already known Hendricks was asking for too much and GMGM didn’t bother making an offer because of this.

  • CDizz
  • CDizz

    He had more heart and soul than anyone on this team. A child could see that. But hey, I wouldn’t want to stretch your brain that far. You might hurt yourself.

  • Karen

    My best Hendricks memory has to be when I was honored to get hockey instruction from him at an auctioned skills clinic. He was very down-to-earth and treated us like real hockey players, not like we were just beer leaguers. I still can’t believe I can say that I got instruction on how to work the puck against the boards from Matt Hendricks!

    And to see the paralyzer shot from the ice? He did it for us just because we were all begging for him to do it against the poor beer league goalie, but you know that guy is probably cherishing that memory right now too.

  • bskillet

    4th liners win games too, 4th liners log minutes, 4th liners punish the opposition and 4th liners are a must. Try winning without a good one.

  • Red

    It’s too bad that team cohesion and heart are not quantifiable under advanced statistics, because Hendy brought both to the Caps in spades. His contribution to our team and community is immeasurable.

    Matt is the kind of player who helped transcend hockey from pure entertainment, into a lifelong passion for me and many other fans. The spirit of the game will travel with him wherever he goes.

    Miss you already buddy.

  • Dawn

    Favorite Hendy story:

    At a Columbus game, I was sitting next to the Caps’ tunnel, second row behind the bench and there was a dad and his 8ish year old kid behind me. The Caps are talking to/coaching each other and of course, there are some f-bombs being dropped. The dad yells at the Caps (did i mention these guys were Cbus fans) for cursing and Hendy just turns around and says something like “what the f**k do you expect sitting behind a bench at a hockey game?” The dad certainly didn’t expect a response and shut up the rest of the game.

    Also in Cbus, I used to sit at these games next to Hendy’s old neighbor when he played for the Lake Erie Monsters. He said Hendy was the nicest neighbor he ever had and so he’d drive down to Cbus for every Caps game. hendy would always see his neighbor and wave excitedly to him, it was sweet.

  • jeremiah

    so cap reason are why the caps can’t offer him a 1.85 deal, don’t they have close to 9 million in space. thanks to them not giving ribs his stupid 5.5 mil deal they could easily sign him to/match that.
    my early fav memory was after greg campbell took a questionable hit on ovi the night before in preseason everyone was expeting d.j. king to take cre of it the next game , nope some guy on a pro tryout contract went riht after campbell durring opening faceoff and many times later he always looked liked like he hated and wanted to destroy the other team.

  • Troy

    This “Freedoooom” guy sucks. F-off man, Hendy was the entire heart & soul of our hockey team and is worth every single but of that 1.8 million a year. (Remember, Ward gets 3 mil, brooks gets 4.5 mil, so does Erat, ect.) and NONE of them play with the passion of Hendy.

  • @frankgindc

    This past Halloween my 5yo son — and huge hockey fan — had a surprise (first) asthma attack. He had to stay in hospital for three nights, a good portion of it with a vaporizer mask on his face. He was miserable. But I knew what would cheer him up. I tweeted @japersrink who then sent the link to the SO win for Boston, with Hendy pulling the paralyzer on Tim Thomas. Watching my worn out son giggle through his O2 mask was awesome. We watched it over and over — of course Tim Thomas also gets an assist for tripping. Later, this past spring at the end of a practice at Kettler, I pointed out Hendy to my boy and showed him that Hendy (and Beags) always seemed to be last off the ice. Hendy is a great guy and a huge reason I love the Caps. We’ll miss him.

  • Bryant Thomas

    I tear’d up watching this gif :((((((

  • Bryant Thomas

    Part of good parenting is knowing what you’re getting into! It wouldn’t bother me in the least, assuming I had the cash to sit behind the bench with my kids.

  • Taz

    Amen. This just makes me so sad. I wish him all the best, am glad there’s a GM that appreciates the valuable intangibles he brings.

  • JessHughes

    Lots of great Hendy moments, and let’s not forget he was one of the first to support “You Can Play,” to promote tolerance and acceptance for gay athletes. Good luck, you will be missed.

  • jeremiah

    in a world were logic and reason matter. i know you hate bottom six players . which you have the right to, but you also are wrong. 1.8 is very reasonable for someone who wins faceoffs, kills penalties, and was a spark for the team.

  • Ash

    Actually, Hendricks’ interview on 106.7 The Fan this evening mentioned he talked with GMGM, and they went over numbers, but they couldn’t come to an agreement, and he understood because of the salary cap. So, they did talk. It just didn’t work out.

    It sucks, because Hendy is an awesome guy, but it is what it is. He deserved a raise, but the Caps couldn’t give him what he wanted. Nashville could. I’m happy he’s getting bank with the Preds, but if GMGM had given him the same deal with Preds did, it doesn’t help us fill the slots we still really need to work on.

  • Ash

    What would be a decent offer for Hendricks, in your opinion? I’m curious as to what people think he should be making and for how long.

  • RedRockingElla

    I was lucky enough to work at the Front Page in Ballston, where players would come in for lunch after practice or dinner after games. One time, they asked me to help cater lunch to them at Kettler. All the players would come in and say hi and get their food and go, but not Hendy. As in everything he does, he was over the top. He asked what the soup was; Chicken noodle, I replied. MH: MY FAVORITE!! YES!!! He was just so awesome. After lunch, he came in, said thank you and gave me a big hug. He’s just such a big hearted guy. Really gonna miss him.
    I also remember the day he signed my hoodie after practice, he was so careful to make sure it came out right, he stretched out the fabric with one hand while signing it with the other. I’m so glad I got that before he was let go. Best of luck in Nashville. They definitely got a good one from us!

  • krwagner9

    I could watch this over and over….Just one thing that made him GREAT! We’re gonna miss you big time Hendy!

  • S

    My favorite Hendy moment was probably when last year on Sasha’s birthday, I went to the Caps practice and after got to meet Hendy in the parking lot. He signed my shirts as well as a Kitty!Neuvy picture that I had printed out to take to the practice. I’ll miss you Hendy 🙁 Good luck in Nashville!

  • capsfan32

    I was at the same clinic – I use those moves in nearly every game I play, and they have the desired effect, exactly how he taught us they would.

  • Georgia Painter

    This makes me sad in my heart. :'(

  • Alice_Fraggle

    “Matt is the kind of player who helped transcend hockey from pure
    entertainment, into a lifelong passion for me and many other fans.” This. Hendy is by far my second favorite Cap (Neuvy will always be my #1), but Hendy is the one that made me really LOVE hockey. His shoot out goal against Thomas (and the subsequent fall down the ramp) will always be my favorite Hendy moment. I’m gonna miss him!

  • Alice_Fraggle

    I forgot about that! But yes, this one too!

  • Sandy

    Photo is from the Six Flags STH day 2013. I will miss him! Enough can’t be said about his hard work and dedication.

  • Ben in VA

    The same night the Rally Balloon graced the Capitals from upon high in a game against the Coyotes two seasons ago, Hendy, already my favorite Caps player, gets in a fight right in front of my second-row-from-the-glass seats with Kyle Chipchura and bloodies his nose on my 30th birthday. Best night ever. Going to miss the Wagon in DC.


  • JasonRoseEh

    I have no damn clue how GMGM lets Hendricks go. Eternal Jean Luc Picard facepalms ensue…

  • Jesi W.

    I got my boyfriend into hockey just this season and he instantly fell in love with Matt Hendricks. I even got him a Hendricks T-shirt as a Valentine’s Day gift this year! lol But Hendy was never afraid to throw down the gloves and put some new action on the ice and busted his ice in every game. You can just see it all over him…from the determination in his face to the speed of his skates. I fell in love with “The Paralyzer” during that very shoot out against Boston when he shut Tim Thomas down. It was a glorious moment of, “Yea, that just happened. Just lay down cause there’s nothing else you can do about it.” My boyfriend and I would actually hope for shoot outs, just for possibility of getting to see that signature move. We were both heart broken when we heard the news, but we’re also not ashamed to say we’re now going to be keeping a good eye on Nashville now to see how things are going. But Hendricks deserves this for sure….glad to see he is finally getting recognized as the amazing player that he is (and the paycheck that goes along with that) lol

  • David Armando Lopez-Mazariegos

    He was the first Cap I ever met/got an autograph from. I met him at Development Camp two years ago when I got him to sign a puck. When it was finally my turn to get his autograph, I stepped up and said “Hello, Mr. Hendricks.” He looked at me with a smile and said, “Just call me ‘Matt.'” Back then I was also fairly new to hockey, so the names Ii was more familiar with were big ones like Ovechkin and Backstrom. Truth be told, I didn’t recognize Hendricks when they announced he was signing at Dev. Camp. But after I got more into the sport I noticed Hendy and how much of an impact he made on the ice, especially in fights and shootouts. I’m really going to miss seeing Matt in Caps red.