- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2013

That Matt Hendricks is a tough hockey player was never in question. The Washington Capitals forward Tuesday simply added another chapter to his tale of playing through injuries.

Hendricks suffered a scratched cornea in his left eye against the Carolina Hurricanes and lost his vision at first, but he came back to play.

“I still feel it; it feels a little sore and a little burning sensation in there,” Hendricks said after practicing Wednesday. “But for the most part I’m good. It was probably more scary than anything.”

Hendricks took a glove to the eye from Hurricanes forward Tim Brent as some pushing and shoving was going on. His vision was “a little disrupted” and he saw spots, but drops and a contact lens allowed him to continue about his business.

“It was a little nerve-wracking,” Hendricks said. “I couldn’t see anything out of it right away. Kind of like somebody poked you in the eye real good and you kind of see black here. But it came back quickly and I was able to play, and that’s all that really matters.”

Hendricks played just four shifts in the final two periods of the 5-3 victory, but the fact that he came back at all was a testament to his stubbornness to play through just about anything.

“It takes a lot to get that guy out of the lineup,” center Jay Beagle said. “For him not to come back, he’s got to be almost half-dead. We know that he’s a hardworking guy and a heart guy. That’s what he does.”

Hendricks is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer and is believed to be looking for a commitment to re-sign with the Caps. His agent, Michael Wulkan, said Tuesday he was “cautiously optimistic” about getting a deal done, but nothing happened before Wednesday’s trade deadline.

Hendricks will be 32 by the start of next season. He fills multiple roles for coach Adam Oates’ team, from penalty killing and faceoffs to a little bit of enforcement.

Schmidt sent to Hershey

The Caps sent Nate Schmidt to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League a day after signing the defenseman as a college free agent out of the University of Minnesota. Schmidt practiced in Arlington with the team Wednesday and called it a “no-brainer” to sign with the team, but the playing time he’ll get in the immediate future will be in the minors.

“We like him a lot. Real good player,” general manager George McPhee said. “Sort of the guy we targeted this year.”

After demoting Schmidt, the Caps were back to having eight healthy defensemen.

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