BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (KMSP) - The fight to stay in the National Hockey League is what’s pushing Matt Hendricks of Blaine, Minn. The 37-year-old and former St. Cloud State standout signed with the Minnesota Wild this summer and now he's doing all he can to make sure he's ready for the start of camp later this week.
“It’s still so much fun for me,” said Hendricks. “You know, I love being at the rink, you know the camaraderie in the room with the guys, joking around, the hard work together, working together on the ice and practice and stuff. I just love that. As you get older, the summers become harder. It’s harder to train. It’s harder to push yourself to the next level, but the obvious goal is to win the Cup.”
He's putting in the maximum effort by enlisting the help of doctors and trainers at TRIA Orthopedic. There, he meets with John Bottoms, a physical therapist who loves pushing Hendricks to the max.
“He’s a good guy work with,” said Bottoms. “He would basically do anything you ask him to. He’s going to be a hard worker, just like he is on the ice. I mean if I say, ‘Run into that wall’ he would probably do it. So we have a lot of fun when we work together too. So, they’re fine-tuned athletes they want to get better, they’re motivated, so I don’t have to give them that much coaching or motivation – they just do it on their own.”
Hendricks over the years is one of a handful of NHLers that works with TRIA while playing in Da Beauty League. The fun league for fans gives the guys a serious chance to combine their treatments with their timing.
“[Da Beauty League] is a nice thing from a rehab standpoint too," said Bottoms. "It’s a place that we can put people to get on the ice and have a high level skate without being the intensity level of the NHL."
“You know just to be out there with the puck on your stick, making plays, having fun, playing a lot – it’s a great part of the summer,” said Hendricks. “It conditions you well for hockey, but at the same time you get to work on your hands, you get to score a lot more goals than you would in the regular season – at least in my case.”
With the work behind them, Hendricks is now set to hit the ice for real and earn a spot with his hometown team.
“I give them tons of thanks for giving me an opportunity to come home and play, you know, I want to give them everything in return. So the onus is on me to prepare myself, get better and be ready to go come training camp,” said Hendricks.