As I'm certain you have all read by now, the Minnesota Wild have invited defenseman Jordan Hendry to training camp on a tryout. This is news, but really only in a tangential, it's still August, dear lord, what do we talk about kind of way. While it certainly needs to be reported, the amount of posts about the news and the seeming excitement level in the Wild base raises in me a question:
Why do we care?
Make the jump, if you need a hockey in August fix for the day.Who is Jordan Hendry?
If you read all of the announcements, posts, tweets, and other discussion, Hendry is a Stanley Cup winning, stay-at-home defenseman with some grit and an NHL level game. If you actually look at the stats (no, not his Corsi), Hendry is a dime-a-dozen, low priced, potential AHL level player with a mid grade game and the ability to stick on a Stanley Cup winning team due to salary cap issues.
Hendry has five seasons with NHL experience, in none of which has he played more than 43 games. He has put up Sheppard-esque offensive numbers, which isn't much to boast about. The only real offensive promise he has shown is his eight points (2G, 6A) in his career year of 2009-10. He has an average number of PIMs, throws about one hit per game, and blocks shots about as often as... well... James Sheppard.
Why is This a Big Deal?
To be honest, I'm not sure. He does have NHL experience, and has some decent enough numbers in his college and AHL career. Fourteen points and 74 PIMs in his final season at University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and 16 points and 84 PIMs for Norfolk in 2006-07 are his top seasons. He certainly isn't burning it up on his way to Norris trophy contention, but he seems to be a serviceable d-man.
He did play defensive partner to Nick "The Savior" Leddy for a stretch, so maybe that's where the excitement is stemming from.
The truth of the matter is, Hendry is being brought into camp in an organization deep at the blue line, at least in prospects, not necessarily guys who will play big minutes this season. The Aeros still need some veteran presence on the back end, and that is likely the motivation here. It could also be that an NHL player was looking for a place to go to show he still has game, and maybe pick up a deal somewhere before packing his bags for Europe. See: Nolan, Owen RE: Vancouver Canucks.
The situation may also be getting far more attention than is necessary due to the departure of Brent Burns, and the questions that are surrounding the Wild's NHL ready defensive bona fides. To be certain, if that is the source of the "excitement," people are setting themselves up for a disaster. Jordan Hendry is not only not Brent Burns, but he is not even close to the same type of player as Brent Burns.
The Bitter End
What I am hoping I see is a fan base electrified by the moves Chuck Fletcher made, excited and motivated for hockey season to arrive to see what this team can do, and not a fan base fooling itself into thinking that Jordan "Former Stanley Cup Winner" Hendry is the answer to any of the potential issues surrounding this team right now. The Wild have four defensemen with one way deals in Marke Zidlick, Greg Zanon, Nick Shultz, and Mike Lundin. They have two others on two-way deals that are near locks for the team in Clayton Stoner and Jared Spurgeon. They have several prospects ready to step into a seventh man / injury call up role in Justin Falk, Marco Scandella, Drew Bagnall, and Nate Prosser, as well as a guy hungry to prove himself once and for all in Tyler Cuma.
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about the Wild, and their season, plenty of players to watch and story lines to follow. No offense to the guy, but Jordan Hendry is not likely to be one of them.
Of course, this is another situation where I would absolutely love to be proven wrong. Here's hoping Hendry comes into camp hungry and fighting for a spot, giving some real competition to the guys penciled into the lineup card. Perhaps he even stakes a claim on a spot in Houston.
Other than the fact that this involves the Wild, it still doesn't seem to be something that should be making the rounds the way it has been. Good luck in camp, Mr. Hendry.
Forty days, folks. Forty days.