Matt Hendricks signs two-year extension with the Capitals

Thursday, February 24, 2011; D03

Hendricks signs two-year extension

Matt Hendricks arrived in Washington for training camp in September on a professional tryout contract, determined to make an impression with the Capitals. Five months later, the gritty utility forward is a fan favorite who will be in the fold for the next two seasons.

Washington signed the 29-year-old to a two-year contract extension worth $1.6 million, with $800,000 coming in each season, the team announced Wednesday. It's the first one-way contract Hendricks, who is in the midst of his second full NHL season, has ever signed. A one-way contract is for a guaranteed figure, whether the player remains in the NHL or is sent to the minors.

"It's an exciting time," Hendricks said in a telephone interview. "It's my first one-way, so that means the world to me. To be able to look into the future a little bit and see myself here for the next two years means a lot."

Hendricks, who is one of nine Capitals forwards under contract for next year, has 19 points (seven goals) and 84 penalty minutes in 57 games.

Hendricks said discussions about an extension to stay in Washington began about two months ago and grew serious in the past two or three weeks. He said he's happy to be able to remain with the Capitals and with a coaching staff that he knows well, as he played for Coach Bruce Boudreau and assistant Bob Woods in Hershey in 2006-07.

"I really enjoy the coaching staff; they treat me well, and I get opportunity from them to succeed and from the organization as well," Hendricks said. "All I want to do is win."

When Hendricks showed up at Kettler Capitals Iceplex for training camp, Boudreau told him to simply do what he does best and it would be very hard for the staff to not keep him. At the conclusion of camp, the Capitals signed Hendricks to a one-year, two-way contract worth $575,000.

"He came in and didn't let up for a minute, from Day 1 to now. I don't think it's in his character to let up at all," Boudreau said. "He's been in a lot of situations, whether to fight or score or make plays, and he's done it all. Whether it's to get the crowd into the game or back someone up, he knows when he's supposed to so one thing or the other. And quite frankly, the one thing you like about him an awful lot as a coach is all he wants to do is win. He doesn't care how."

Hendricks missed the Capitals' most recent contest, a 1-0 win in Pittsburgh on Monday night, because he was sick, but the forward said he is feeling better and that he skated briefly on Wednesday. He said he hopes to be back in the lineup this weekend.

Backstrom may still play

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom suffered a small fracture in his thumb Monday night in Pittsburgh, but Boudreau said he is optimistic that the top-line center won't miss any time.

"We'll see tomorrow how he's feeling," Boudreau said Wednesday of Backstrom, who has yet to miss a game in his NHL career and rarely misses practice. "He's going to practice and I'm confident it's not serious; everything that's been told to me is that it's not bad at all.

"The absolute worst-case scenario is he might miss the weekend - might. Anyone that knows Nick and how tough he is knows it takes a lot to hold him back."

- Katie Carrera

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