By Sloane Martin, WCCO Radio
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Wild assistant coach Darby Hendrickson will not be on the bench for the team’s game against Edmonton Saturday night. Instead he’ll be back at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, watching his son compete for the Minnetonka Skippers in the Class 2-A state title game.
“Those moments with your kids you can’t get back,” he said.
Hendrickson says head coach Bruce Boudreau and general manager Chuck Fletcher approached him about leaving Canada during the Wild’s road back-to-back to see his son Mason Hendrickson, a junior forward, play for a championship. He says it’s hard to be away from the Wild as they make a push for the postseason, but he’s thankful to be able to share this experience with Mason — a chance he doesn’t always get with a career in professional sports.
“I was taken aback because I know with our schedule it’s hard to do that,” he said. “You unfortunately miss these times that you want to be a part of that you never get back, so I have to tip my hat.”
Hendrickson played in the state tournament with Richfield in 1991 and knows how special the environment is.
“It’s pretty cool to not only be around your family, but this whole event,” he said. “Even all the players on the [Wild] it’s been kinda fun. Between periods the Zach Parises the Matt Cullens want updates on games. It’s pretty special and reaches that far. Guys don’t forget their experiences and want to know how teams are doing. Guys are into it; they’re having fun. I think for them, there’s a piece of our state and a piece of the history that guys are glued to when that tournament time is on.”
Cullen led Moorhead to three state tournament appearances and two runner-up finishes in the mid-90s. Parise was born in Minneapolis and went to high school at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault.
The Skippers are facing the Duluth East Greyhounds, the same team Hendrickson lost to in the quarterfinals 27 years ago. Hendrickson says he knows the rest of the Wild staff can handle tonight’s game, so he can focus on being a parent.
“It’s even more special to be around when they’re having fun and you see them grow up and be in a big moment.”