By Scott Taylor
September 1, 2017
A National Hockey League team located about seven hours by car north of the Twin Cities has decided that Minnesota hockey players make the best leaders.
In fact the three players considered to be the “leaders” of the Winnipeg Jets are Minnesotans – captain Blake Wheeler from Plymouth, defensive star Dustin Byfuglien from Roseau and now, highly-regarded penalty killer Matt Hendricks from Blaine.
This week, the Jets agreed to terms with the 36-year-old veteran Hendricks on a one-year deal worth $700,000.
Hendricks Tweeted: “Very happy to be joining the @NHL Jets organization. Can’t wait to meet the guys and get the season off to a good start!”
Hendricks spent the last four seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. Last year, he had four goals and seven points in 42 games and for the second straight season he led the Oilers in the faceoff circle, winning 132-of-232 draws (56.9 per cent).
Hendricks, a left-handed shooting centerman, has also been a staple on the Oilers penalty kill. In fact, he is among the Top 25 NHL forwards in shorthanded time-on-ice during the last five seasons.
He has played 521 career NHL games with Colorado, Washington, Nashville, and Edmonton and has totaled 49 goals and 100 points with 664 penalty minutes and a career faceoff percentage of 53.9 per cent.
Hendricks, who is 6-foot, 205 pounds, was drafted by the Predators in the fifth round (131st overall) in the 2000 NHL Draft. He’s the son of an American Marine and a Swedish mother. He and his wife Kimberly have five-year-old twins, son Gunnar and daughter Lennon.
He represented the United States at the World Championships in 2015.
He has been called, “a great team player,” and “an outstanding leader.” In Winnipeg, that would describe all three Minnesota players.