So who is Training Camp invitee Matt Hendricks, anyway?

It’s amazing how the journeys of hockey players always seem to return them to familiar places and faces.  It seems that as the Washington Capitals’ training camp begins, many Hershey Bears fans will have the opportunity to root for a very familiar invitee.  The Capitals announced yesterday that former Bear Matt Hendricks will be taking the ice today in hopes to earning a spot in the organization. 

After four years at St. Cloud State University, the Blaine Minnesota native put in his time bouncing around the minors trying to find a place on a NHL roster.  He was with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades and the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, Lowell Loch Monsters, and Rochester Americans before spending the 2006-2007 season with the Hershey Bears.  Matt skated in 65 games for the Bears that year, scoring 18 goals and adding 26 assists for a total of 44 points.  He also amassed 105 penalty minutes defending his teammates and sparking fires when the team needed it.  He was an imperative part of the Bears’ playoff push that year as well, scoring 8 goals and adding 4 assists in 19 games before the Bears fell to Hamilton in the Calder Cup Finals.

After his season in Hershey, Matt continued chasing his dream to play in the NHL and found himself on the AHL’s Providence (Bruins) and Lake Erie (Avalanche) squads before landing a steady gig with the Avs in Denver for the 2009-2010 season.  In the 56 games Hendricks suited up for the Avs he scored 9 goals and added 7 assists for 16 points skating about 9 minutes per game.  He was Colorado’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 2010.

The idea of having Matt Hendricks back in the organization is enough to make my week.  When Matt was a Bear, he was coached by Bruce Boudreau and Bob Woods.  He was teammates with Tomas Fleischmann, Mike Green, Dave Steckel, Tyler Sloan, and Jeff Schultz.  So obviously, Hendricks is familiar with the system, the coaching staff, and quite a few of the players at camp. 

One thing I’ve always loved about Hendy is that he’s a tough and gritty center who will do anything for his team.  Block a shot, head up a PK, quarter-back a PP, lay a hard hit, fight a goon that’s relentless to his teammates, score a clutch goal when the “scorers” aren’t – that’s what he does.  I’ll even go out on a limb and say that that’s why he’s in DC right now.

I’d suggest taking that list of all the “possible camp surprises” you’ve been hearing about, and add Matt Hendricks to it.