Attaboy. (Photo credit: Elsa)

George McPhee doesn’t tip his hand often, but during an interview with DC101’s Elliot In the Morning last week, the man some call The Undertaker revealed his softer, less-cage-matchy side when he discussed Matt Hendricks’ new four-year, $7.4-million deal with the Nashville Predators.

“I was really happy for Matty,” McPhee said. “I called him I think the day of or the day after he signed and I told him beforehand that, ‘I hope he hits a home run out there.'”

That may be strange to hear for Washington Capitals fans who hoped McPhee would literally go to the Matt to re-sign the fourth-line center. Hendricks was a leader in the locker room, a dependable player, one of the flashier shootout experts in the league, and was capable on the face-off dot to boot. He dropped his gloves 32 times in his Capitals career and had a strong presence in the community. He was one of the most beloved players on the team.

McPhee explained that the salary cap and the Caps’ high number of upper-echelon players prevented him from not making a better offer.

“There are some teams that don’t have what we have in terms of high-end players,” McPhee said. “Nashville’s got Weber; we’ve got Ovechkin. Two great players with two big contracts. But we also have a Backstrom. We also have a Green. So I can’t pay players on our fourth line $2-million a year. They’ve got to be a million or less.”

McPhee also knew Hendricks would not be returning to the team in 2013-14 as early as the trade deadline.

“I told him what we could do,” McPhee said. “We made our best offers at the deadline, and I said, ‘You know, Matty. If it doesn’t work with us, I hope you get a great contract out there and take care of your family.’ And he did.”

McPhee continued, “[Matt’s a] great guy. This was a positive experience. We really benefitted from the relationship, and now we’ll move on to other players whether it’s a Volpatti or a Latta.” Hard-working prospects Tom Wilson and Garrett Mitchell are also waiting in the wings, ready for a big-league opportunity.

No matter who ends up capturing the roster spot, “somebody else has to play now.”

They’ll have some mighty big skates to fill.

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  • Eric

    5.6 mil to play with of coarse a new deal with MOJO will probably take a huge chunk out of that, does he deserve more than 3M/Yr? if not then we could’ve had room for hendy…i’m going to miss him hell of a player

  • yv

    That’s very unfortunate but for 4th liner everything above 1m$ would be overpayment. Otherwise , beside mentioned, Hendys stick banging of the glass during warm-ups in VC would be a missing ritual.

  • Jimmie

    “No matter who ends up capturing the roster spot, “somebody else has to play now.”

    They’ll have some mighty big skates to fill.”

    Won’t happen. Neither Volpatti nor Latta are leaders in any sense of the word. You have to have leaders, especially hard-working grinder leaders. I’m convinced GMGM’s propensity for getting rid of players like that is a big reason the team hasn’t gone very far in the playoffs.

    The guy who’ll fill Hendy’s skates isn’t on the roster and isn’t likely to be there anytime soon. The shame of it is, Hendy’s gone but GMGM will pay big money to keep the flop known as MoJo.

  • I don’t think we want the Caps to be right under the limit at the start of the season– kinda limits options.

    Mojo will probably eat ~$2 – 2.5 of the Caps’ $5.6 space, leaving $3.6. Not enough for Grabo, and not appropriate to spend on Hendricks, who never plays more than 12 minutes a night.

  • Pat Magee

    Garrett Mitchell is really good. He’s got more of a scoring touch than Latta, but it doesn’t matter. Wilson is probably already better than both of them combined!

  • Cathy

    I am so sad the Hendy is gone…He was my favorite Capital and will be sorely missed. I hope to God whatever McPhee sees in Mojo is worth losing Hendy…I don’t see it though!

  • SwedishClusterF

    With a player like Latta, your returning players automatically become bigger leaders on the team because you’ve got a rookie to help out/teach the ropes/watch out for. Jay Beagle turns 28 in a few months. (Hey, on my birthday). A few years ago he was trying to prove he belonged. Now there’s a new guy trying to make the team who should be playing right next to him.

  • Troy

    Honestly, if we can let Hendy go then why can’t we just let shitty MoJo go too? Hendy was much more important and honestly way more vital to the Capitals’ success than Marcus was. Plain and simple, let the guy walk and pick up Grabovski. Easy as pie AND we’ll have someone that understands the damn game of hockey.