ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - For the second straight day, Minnesota Wild assistant coach Darby Hendrickson has taken himself out of retirement and laced up the skates for practice with the short-handed team. Hendrickson skated with the third line at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday, and caught the eye of his head coach.
“I give him full kudos for putting the stuff on and going out there and trying. And for a guy that’s done it for two days and hasn’t been playing for ten years, he’s done a pretty good job,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said.
The Wild are playing and practicing without Zach Parise, who exited Monday’s practice early with an undisclosed injury, as well as Charlie Coyle (broken leg), Marcus Foligno (broken facial bone), Mikael Granlund (groin) and Nino Niederreiter (sprained ankle).
Wild players who skated with Hendrickson said he still has some veteran skills in retirement.
“I think it’s cool,” said Wild center Eric Staal.”It’s not a situation that will happen every day. Anytime you have somebody like him – a big guy, a good person – it’s fun to have him out there. He’s played before, so he gets it. He may not be as quick as he was before but he’s still got some tools and some smarts that he played with. He doesn’t look out of place out there, that’s for sure.”
“He looks good,” said Wild center Tyler Ennis. “He told us he’s been retired for ten years, but doesn’t look like he’s been retired for ten years. He’s a great guy and a great coach. We needed a body out there and I thought he looked really good out there.”
The Wild don’t practice Wednesday, and some players from the AHL Iowa Wild are expected to fill empty spots at Thursday’s practice.
Darby Hendrickson played 14 NHL season with Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks, Minnesota Wild, and Colorado Avalanche. He finished his NHL career with Colorado in 20014 and played three more season of professional hockey in Latvia and Austria. Prior to his NHL career, Hendrickson played for the University of Minnesota and was named Mr. Hockey in 1991 for his standout play at Richfield High School.