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:
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:
— Tom Wilson (@tom_wilso) July 5, 2013
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.