Hextall: Bringing Hendricks back to the Winnipeg Jets is about leadership

Winnipeg Jets' Matt Hendricks (15), middle, celebrates with Joel Armia (40), Mathieu Perreault (85), Dmitry Kulikov (5) and Tyler Myers (57) after Perreault's goal during third period NHL hockey action against the Vancouver Canucks, in Winnipeg, Monday, December 11, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Trevor Hagan. Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press

As the Winnipeg Jets made a bunch of trade moves to shore up a crippled defense and strengthen their second offensive line, the trade for Matt Hendricks came as a surprise to fans.

The former Jet signed as a free agent over the summer with the Minnesota Wild, but less than five hockey months later, he’s back under the Jets’ wing.

READ MORE: ‘I like what we did today for our organization:’ Winnipeg Jets make 6 deals on trade deadline day

It comes down to one word, said 680 CJOB sports correspondent Leah Hextall — leadership.

“Character means something,” she said. “It’s why the Winnipeg Jets signed Matt Hendricks.”

Hendricks, 37, played 60 games with the Jets in the 2017-18 season, before signing with his hometown Wild.

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“In a single season with Winnipeg, Hendricks made his mark, left his thumbprint on the players, organization and the community.

“There is not a negative word to be said about Hendricks. He plays whatever role is asked of him, on the ice or as a healthy scratch in the press box.”

That leadership will make life a little easier for other leaders in the dressing room, said Hextall.

“He has the ability to take the pressure off the captain, and it allows Blake Wheeler the chance to focus on Blake Wheeler.”

The Jets were the busiest team during Monday’s trade deadline day, ending up with several players, including five on the active roster. They include Kevin Hayes, Par Lindholm, Bogdan Kiselevich, Nathan Beaulieu and Hendricks, who will sport No. 15 on the ice.

“The acquisition of Matt Hendricks, that was a want,” said Hextall.

“The team wanted Hendricks back in the dressing room. They wanted his presence. They wanted his leadership. They have missed him within that dressing room.”

The Winnipeg Jets take on the Wild Tuesday night at Bell MTS Place.

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