Something to Prove
I won’t call Canucks top prospect Cody Hodgson a diva like my friend Richard did a few months ago. I won’t label him a bust like some Canucks fans already seem to have. However, I will say that this is perhaps the most important year of his young career so far.
Hodgson’s 2009/2010 season was as disappointing as his 2008/2009 one was impressive. In 2008/2009, he was the CHL Player of the Year, a gold medalist with Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships, and the Canucks best, most highly-touted prospect in a long time (arguably ever). Last year, he suffered a serious back injury (in the offseason) and a broken toe (just before the playoffs) and played in only 24 games.
I think it goes without saying that a good 2010/2011 season will go a long way in proving he is still one of the top prospects in the NHL than, say, another Pat Peake.
What’s caused some consternation among Canucks fans is how Hodgson seems oddly detached from the rest of the Canucks organization. Mike Gillis has been able to convince almost every other Canucks player to buy into his program. That is, every other Canucks player except for Cody.
Shortly after drafting Kevin Connauton, the Canucks suggested that he leave the Western Michigan Broncos early and play in the WHL. Connauton signed with the Vancouver Giants, who owned his rights, and he went on to break the Giants’ franchise record for points in season by a defenseman and lead all WHL defensemen and all WHL rookies in scoring.
After the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers’ season ended, the Canucks convinced Jordan Schroeder to turn pro. Schroeder impressed in his short stint with the Manitoba Moose and finished with 15 points (7 goals-8 assists) in 17 AHL regular season and playoff games.
I realize this is a small sample, but at least in Connauton’s and Schroeder’s cases, you can’t argue that Gillis and the Canucks didn’t prescribe programs that were good for their development.
Which brings us back to Hodgson.
Cody caused quite a stir when he decided to stop training with Canucks Director of Player Development, Dave Gagner. Instead, he spent this summer training under ex-Leaf Gary Roberts’ training regimen, and in fact, he missed the Canucks summer prospects camp so he could complete it without interruption. He’s dictating his own destiny and that’s certainly his right. It is odd though that the team’s top prospect is the one guy that doesn’t follow his team’s development program.
This isn’t to say that this is a good or bad thing. At the end of the day, Hodgson’s performance at the main camp will determine whether or not he made the right decision to go against Gillis’ grain. At the end of the day, it will be up to him to prove that he belongs in the pros, whether it’s in the NHL or the AHL.
His first step will be on Friday when he flies in for his physical.
Nice article JJ. I am still fully confident that Hodgson will turn out the player that we all expected before he suffered his injury. His skill is there, no one can take that away from him. We saw that when he was healthy for those games last year. Frankly, I’m tired of all the people (who have no idea what they’re talking about) saying he is a bust or that his career is over. Personally, I don’t even read anything our media writes about him because it’s all the same things spun a different way.
I definitely agree that this is a HUGE year for him though. A strong year and all this drama and prima donna talk will be a distant memory. The biggest issue is the cloud of secrecy on the situation, if Gillis and/or Hodgson just came out and give a straight up update then we’d know for sure and all this speculation could end. Unfortunately, that’s all we can do is speculate. I just hope he shows up Friday, destroys the physical test, and goes on to become the player he should be.
It just takes time for the two sides to repair their relationship given what happened last season. Hodgson suffered his back injury training with Dave Gagner and was the Canucks medical staff cleared him to play in the preseason, and Hodgson probably hid his discomfort in the beginning until it became clear that the injury was only getting worse. Furthermore, the coaching staff made public comments about him using injury as an excuse for the disappointing performance. I think it’s understandable that Hodgson would want to handle his own training in the summer and at least he’s in good hands with Gary Roberts. The Canucks organization also is going to be extra cautious with Hodgson’s health given what has transpired and will likely err on the side of caution. Hodgson and the Canucks both can’t afford another major injury at this point.
Sorry double post