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Will Nashville’s “Entertainment Tax” be collected by Matt Hendricks?

NHL: Washington Capitals at Buffalo Sabres

Aug 29, 2013


Coming back to where it all started, can Matt Hendricks contribute to the Nashville Predators with his unique hard-nosed style of play?

Originally drafted by the Predators in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Hendricks bounced around the WCHA, ECHL, and AHL before making his professional debut in 2008 for the Colorado Avalanche. After successful stints with both the Colorado Avalanche and most recently the Washington Capitals, Hendricks signed a four year, $7.4 million dollar deal with the Predators that will keep him with Nashville for the foreseeable future. In his three seasons with the Capitals, Hendricks tallied 18 goals, 24 assists, and 278 penalty minutes, which includes his five goals, three assists, and 73 penalty minutes last season.

Hendricks isn’t just known for his gritty, hard-nosed approach to the game of hockey, but he has a keen knack as a shootout specialist. Via Washington Capitals blog “Russian Machine Never Breaks”:

“In his three seasons in the NHL, Hendy is a surprising 5 for 9 in the gimmick (2 for 3 in 2011-12, 2 for 4 in 2010-11, and 1 for 2 with Colorado Avalanche in 2009-10). His shootout goals have been featured in SportCenter’s Top Ten Lists and teammate Karl Alzner has referred to him as the team’s “secret weapon.””

With Nashville attempting to regain their old “blue-collar” identity and mentality, Hendricks should be a welcome addition to a lineup that needs a certain amount of toughness night in and night out. The Predators gutted their bottom lines this off-season, sending off depth players like Matt Halischuk, Brandon Yip, and Chris Mueller, in favor of seasoned veteran players like Matt Hendricks and Eric Nystrom. While the aforementioned departed players added a bit of offense and a certain amount of two-way play, the problem for Nashville was more about bringing in players who could collect on an “Entertainment Tax”. From Jim Diamond at the Examiner:

“As important, if not more important, we wanted to regain our identity, the identity of Predators’ hockey,” Poile said at a Friday afternoon news conference. “And by that I mean signing some character players who are tough to play against and we’ve got that in Matt Hendricks and Erik Nystrom.”

With his team largely depleted by injuries during the short 48-game regular season, Trotz had many different faces coming in and out of the lineup each night. He feels like Friday’s additions will stabilize his team and also provide his younger players some role models.

“We’ve added some grit,” Trotz said. “I wasn’t too happy last year at times, especially when certain people went down. There wasn’t an entertainment tax coming into the Bridgestone Arena and I think we addressed those needs. There is going to be a little bit of an entertainment tax if you are the visiting team. It is going to be a little harder to come in here and that’s what we want. And that’s not only for our fans, that’s not only for our team, but it is also for our organizational culture and also for the development of the young guys. You need those veteran guys.

Hendricks is a multi-purpose player who can deliver hard checks, score tough goals, fight when the situation calls for it, and grind down his opposition. Did Poile and Trotz take a gamble with a lengthy four year contract for a modest amount? Perhaps, but in a league where players like Hendricks always earn themselves a contract, garnering his services for their club was a small price to pay if he ends up contributing the way management envisions he will.


Hendricks is definitely known for his fighting…

…but is also known for his knee-breaking shootout moves:

Photo Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports