‘FIRST CLASS ALWAYS’: Paul Hendrick signs off from Leafs

One of the most familiar faces and voices around the Maple Leafs — a walking encyclopedia of team history and stats — is hanging up his microphone.

Paul Hendrick, the widely respected reporter who joined Leafs TV in its mid-90s’ infancy, announced via Twitter on Wednesday he was leaving.

“Hockey and covering the Leafs has been a privilege. But it’s now time to move on. I want to thank MLSE for a great adventure, the players, coaches, management and my dear colleagues over the years. And thank you Leafs Nation, your passion is unparalleled.”

The native of Noranda, Que., now in his early 60s, told the Sun his leaving was “a mutual decision best for both parties.” He did in-game hosting when Leafs TV used to get a few games of the broadcast pie and has been reporting on the NHL club and AHL Marlies the past few years under the new Leafs Nation Network banner.

During the 11 of 12 years Leafs didn’t make the playoffs, the first question of many funereal post-game scrums often fell to Hendrick to break the ice.

Hendrick was razor sharp with an on-air pun and was always jotting on manila file sheet of notes, stats and lineups he’d laboured on all day. He worked in Sault St Marie in radio and TV and was equally well known for 15 years of Ontario University Football coverage on Hamilton’s CHCH-TV. Many Leafs, including Hyman and Matthews, sent him good luck messages.

“His impact will be felt for years to come. All the best and thank you,” read a tweet from the club’s public relations department.

Maple Leafs players past and present weighed in on social media to praise the man known as Henny.

“First class always! Pleasure to work with you henny, all the best in the future!” Auston Matthews wrote.

“One of the best in the business,” said Tyler Bozak.

“In a hockey world that can be very overwhelming at times, you have a knack of making people (including myself on numerous occasions) feel comfortable and confident,” Travis Dermott wrote. “You will be missed dearly.”

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