One day after Matt Hendricks fought Nathan Horton and Adam McQuaid in Washington’s 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday, the Capitals forward said that having to drop the gloves twice was simply “part of the job.”
Hendricks fought Horton late in the second period and McQuaid midway through the third frame. The fight with McQuaid angered a number of Capitals who felt that it had gone beyond the boundaries of hockey’s code.
Boston’s Shawn Thornton had challenged Hendricks to a fight at the faceoff circle 10 minutes into the third period and as play began, Thornton followed Hendricks up the ice. Hendricks tried to fend off Thornton, not interested in scrapping with “a guy is far out of my weight class,” but McQuaid eventually stepped in and also challenged Hendricks to drop the gloves.
Ultimately, Hendricks had little choice but to fight one of the two Bruins. He decided on McQuaid who he had previously fought twice before.
“First of all, that’s Thornton’s job,” Hendricks said. “That’s what he does, he gets paid to do that, and that’s what makes him valuable in this league- he can play minutes but he’s also a heavyweight enforcer so he’s a valuable asset.”
Secondly, Hendricks noted, the Bruins were looking to stick-up for Horton. While Horton himself told reporters in Boston yesterday that he had asked Hendricks to fight, he is a key scorer in Boston’s lineup and a top-six forward not accustomed to dropping the gloves.
“It didn’t matter what happened there, I ended up getting the better of him in the fight and that’s the price you have to pay in a 4-1 game against them at home.
“Horton and I seemed to be bumping into each other after every whistle. I don’t know if it was intended by him or intended as part of their game plan but it seemed to happen and that’s part of hockey. That’s part of playing the Boston Bruins in Boston. It’s the way they play and you’ve got to know that it’s coming.”
While head coach Adam Oates said it was “wrong” of the Bruins to corner Hendricks in the third period and defenseman Karl Alzner called it “the biggest joke” he’d ever seen, Hendricks didn’t take offense.
“Thornton is doing his job,” he explained. “McQuaid gives me another option. In my opinion at that point in the game I felt ‘okay, this is what I’ve got to do at this point in the game.’
“They wanted me to answer the bell for fighting their top-line guy and I think they know that he asked me to go, but against them, that’s what you’ve got to do in those situations. So McQuaid came over to give me another option, he knew that I didn’t want to fight Thornton- the guy is far out of my weight class. That’s justice to them.”
Hendricks also acknowledged that he is trying to cut back on fighting this season. Oates at times has used Hendricks as a top-line left winger, and the 32-year-old has also emerged as a key cog on Washington’s penalty killing unit.
Yesterday’s two fighting majors give Hendricks a team-high six fights on the season, but with the rugged John Erskine sidelined with an upper-body injury and tough-guy Aaron Volpatti seeing limited ice-time, the brunt of the dirty work in Boston fell on Hendricks.
“The situation that happened last night, I just kept getting slapped around after whistles, headlocked and I had asked Horton a couple of times [to fight] and we didn’t go. Then he gave me the opportunity to go after [our] No.1 point getter [Mike] Ribeiro was goaded into his first NHL fight [against Boston’s Brad Marchand]. So it was a situation where I thought that I had to do it and you live with the repercussions with it. It’s part of the job.”