Cody Hodgson – we told you so

Pardon the Eruption

Vancouver Canucks Cody Hodgson ‘centres’ attention

By Terrance Gavan

Faith, grace and reclamation. Not a bad threesome to start a new year.

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Gav is smiling. But he's not happy. Self Portrait.

No one likes an I-told-you-so, but we have never been beholden to political correctness. Thus, we’ll take some time this 2012 to channel our inner brag and detail the graceful reclamation of one Cody Hodgson, a Haliburton cottager who proved that hard work, talent and perseverance will out.

We have been writing about Hodgson — because of his connection to Haliburton — for many years now. And, we’d like to say that we have displayed the same class and forthrightness as young Cody, but alas we have not. We have single-handedly taken on theVancouverfront office for mismanaging the young man since his tenth overall pick by the Canucks, back in 2008.

We have taken Coach Alain Vigneault’s name in vain, and we have second-guessedVancouver’s general manager, Mike Gillis. We have written so many screeds decrying Vancouver’s abysmal treatment of Hodgson — a general managerial malaise that for years we deemed shoddy and detrimental to Hodgson’s development — that our calls, we imagined, were being screened by the mucky-muck media managers in Vancouver.

Hey, it’s not paranoia. Sometimes that helicopter really is filled with CIA black-ops personnel.

Thankfully we had access to better relations with a friend, Manitoba Moose media guy, Scott Brown, inWinnipeg, when Hodgson was putting together a resume with the Canucks’ AHL affiliate, Manitoba Moose.

This year, Hodgson has moved from “that guy with so much promise” to “that guy” with so much promise. We hope we don’t have to explain the redundancy. The former is by way of a pejorative insult, and the latter, with the appropriate emphasis on “that guy,” is related as a measure of respect.

Cody Hodgson has grown up being “that guy”, a young man who seemed – from the time he first laced on a pair of Tacks at the Dysart Arena in Haliburton – destined to be a leader.

When he played with another Haliburton legend, Matt Duchene, on the Brampton Battalion, Hodgson emerged as leader. When he and Duchene ledCanada’s Under 18 team to gold at the Ivan Hlinka tourney, Hodgson wore the “C.”

Later, Hodgson was the leading scorer – on a team that boasted John Tavares – and helped lead the Canadian juniors to gold in 2009.

During his major junior career with the Battalion, Hodgson received First Team All-Star honours, won the Red Tilson Trophy, William Hanley Trophy and CHL Player of the Year Award in 2009. When he was drafted in the first round in 2008, he was touted as the future of the Canucks franchise. But then he injured his back and all that promise was suddenly, and cruelly, placed on the back burner of the old hot stove.

During his first two training camps, Hodgson was regularly taken to task for his “numerous deficiencies.” More scalding than all that was a growing perception from fans that Hodgson was a “prima donna.” Nothing, and we mean nothing, is more detrimental to a young hockey player’s future than the diva tag. And there was a growing suspicion from people who knew Cody Hodgson that both Gillis and Vigneault were allowing their “future leader” to languish under that harsh spotlight, devoid of front office rebuttal.

Hodgson’s back was used by Internet nuts to confirm his fragility — that was put to rest when Gillis apologized to Hodgson for mistreatment of the back injury. Then, in a wink, so-called gurus were on another bandwagon. To wit: “Cody Hodgson is slow.”

That mangled mantra and pile of batcrap crazy analysis stays with him to this day. It’s a synopsis uttered most often by overstuffed Lazy-Boy loungers and TV-talking-heads who couldn’t skate from one blue line to another without the aid of an oxygen tank and a respirator.

We decried the label then and we stick by it today. Hodgson is not the speediest thing on Reeboks, but he’s certainly not slow. You don’t get past the speed guns and training camps and you don’t get selected 10th in the first round if you’re slow.

Your agent took to his comfy chair and wrote repeatedly that Cody Hodgson needed one thing to shove the phonies and doubters on their collective backsides. We huffed and we puffed and we repeated one mantra. We stayed the course, not because of any personal investiture in Hodgson, but because we realized that Hodgson’s talents did not suddenly dematerialize in a Star Trek transporter.

We said that all Cody Hodgson needed was a chance, the opportunity to play regularly.

Cody Hodgson got that chance this year. He’s still in the Rookie of The Year conversation. More important, Cody Hodgson is contributing.

“On a night where the Sedins couldn’t quite connect and the second line couldn’t get out of second gear, the Canucks’ third line gave them a chance to win,” wroteVancouverProvincebeat writer, Jim Jamieson on Jan 2. “Rookie centre Cody Hodgson led the way in the scoring department, with an assist on Jannik Hansen’s first-period pinball goal… and a key power-play goal that tied the game midway through the third period.”

Faith and grace equals? Reclamation of course.

Happy New Year, and you’re welcome. We told you so!

Gav@haliburtonhighlander.ca and twitter.com/HighlanderToday.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]