The Washington, D.C., chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association nominated Matt Hendricks for the NHL’s Masterton Trophy, which is awarded to the player who best demonstrates “qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey”.
The full list of Masterton nominees is available here.This is the second consecutive season that Hendricks, 29, has been put up for the honor, having been selected by the Denver chapter in the 2009-10 season.
Hendricks arrived in Washington at the start of training camp with a professional tryout contract and by the conclusion of the preseason had earned a roster spot. It marked the beginning of Henricks’s second full season in the NHL after he bouncing around to six different AHL teams and an ECHL club from between the 2003-04 and 2008-09 campaigns.
The versatile forward has since recorded 25 points, become a dressing-room favorite and is now well known in Washington for the way he defends his teammates and brings a physical, energetic edge to each shift. The way Hendricks fit in with the Capitals so seamlessly received no greater supporting evidence than when Washington signed the Minnesota native to his first-ever one-way contract in February, a two-year deal worth $825,000 per season.
Hendricks leads the Capitals with 14 fighting majors and his personality lends itself to making sure opponents don’t take liberties against his teammates. That said, he’s not going to fight just to drop the gloves. He served a similar role in the AHL, but Hendricks said he has since learned when and how to pick his spots, whether in sticking up for a player or trying to sway a game’s momentum.
“Obviously, for the role I play on this team it’s a little bit different for the goals you set for yourself, statistical goals,” Hendricks said. “I got an opportunity here, which I’m grateful for. I got an opportunity to play, an opportunity to build on my ice time. I wish I would have had a few more goals. But with me, if the team does well, I do well. That’s the kind of player that I am. It’s been a great start but we still have a long road to fulfill it.”
It’s been a long road for Hendricks to reach the NHL since he was selected in the fifth round of the 2000 entry draft by Nashville and on Monday, the gritty forward was asked what he learned along the way. Hendricks responded with some advice and encouragement he got in 2006-07 when he was playing for Bruce Boudreau as part of the Hershey Bears.
“Bruce seemed to think when I played with him at Hershey that I could play at this level,” Hendricks said. “That was the first time a coach at the pro ranks had told me that. I really was happy that he thought that of me. When a coach says that to you as a player, you take a sense of pride in it, you feel good. But you know that you still need to get there.
“Some of the things that he really worked with me that year was being the same player every night,” Hendricks continued. “Not getting complacent, working on my defensive zone coverage a little bit more and not worrying so much about scoring points.”