Growing up as a kid in Minnesota and going on to play pro hockey for the pro team in Minnesota helps a guy like Darby Hendrickson evolve into be a sort of folk hero. Something else that helps that status is becoming the assistant coach of the same team later on in your career. Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune shares the news of a local guy continuing to do well.
Now the 38-year-old Hendrickson, who had to give up his job with Fox Sports North working Wild games and resign from his job with the NHL Players Association, is beginning his coaching career.
“To have the opportunity to coach is something I hoped one day to have,” Hendrickson said. “This whole thing happened fairly quickly. I had a few decisions to make in terms of some other things I was doing. But I’m excited, this is exciting. And I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
It figures to be a popular move, but Richards said that wasn’t the reason he made the hire.
“This is to make our team, our organization better,” Richards said. “We were looking to fill some areas. We hired Darby on his reputation and his credentials.”
Hendrickson wasn’t what you’d call a top-line player but he was popular and being brought on board with Todd Richards’ staff with the Wild is a good move to help calm down parts of the Wild fan base who have grown frustrated over the years. Hendrickson is a savvy guy and hell, getting out of working for the NHLPA with the current state they’re in has to make coaching seem like a welcome break.
After being named Mr. Hockey in 1991 in Minnesota and scoring the Minnesota Wild’s first goal, if Hendrickson can help Todd Richards and the Wild rise from mediocrity in the Western Conference, Paul Bunyan might have a new challenger to most popular Minnesota folk hero.