Matt Hendricks has dropped the gloves four times this season (all at home, for what it’s worth) and leads the Washington Capitals in penalty minutes. But as he adjusts to his possibly temporary but definitely different role as the team’s first line left winger, he can rest assured that he may not have to worry about being the fighter of first resort thanks to a couple of the team’s recent roster moves.
The first came when the Caps plucked Aaron Volpatti off of waivers. He wasted little time showing he was willing to throw down, tussling with Winnipeg’s much larger Anthony Peluso in his very first game in a Washington sweater.
Now even Volpatti has help thanks to yesterday’s revelation that the team signed and recalled defenseman Steve Oleksy. Wearing the odd but cool number 61, Oleksy could be in the lineup tonight against the Boston Bruins.
Oleksy is definitely a willing combatant, fighting 11 times in Hershey in 55 games. Here’s more on the blueliner from Mike Vogel:
Tougher and bigger than his size would indicate, Oleksy leads the Bears in penalty minutes and is 13th in the league in that department. He leads all Hershey defensemen in games played and is tied for third in scoring among Bears’ blueliners.
Now while I agree that Oleksy can be tougher than you’d think for his size, I’m not sure he can be bigger. He’s listed at six-feet, 195 pounds, so that’s what he is, right? I get the point though, which is that he won’t back down (cue Tom Petty) and will tangle with bigger guys if called upon. Like, say, Peluso. Or maybe Zdeno Chara if he decides he’s really feeling his oats.
So while no one is suggesting that Hendricks give up pugilism altogether, he could have multiple players who will take care of the rough stuff down the bench on any given night. That’ll leave him free to work on the finer points of his game, like trying to figure out how to replace all the goals that Jason Chimera was scoring on the top line.