Ex-Canuck Cody Hodgson passes on his past
Now a Sabre, top prospect happy to be playing with AHL’s Rochester Americans during NHL lockout
Rochester American and former Vancouver Canucks player Cody Hodgson at game-day morning skate at the Abbotsford Entertainment and sports complex in Abbotsford on Friday, Jan. 4, 2013.
Photograph by: Jason Payne, VANCOUVER SUN
Cody Hodgson is not a big believer in rear-view mirrors.
The former Canuck centre likes to focus on what lies ahead and prefers to leave the past behind him.
That seems especially true when it comes to revisiting his rocky relationship with the team that drafted him 10th overall in 2008.
Hodgson, who is spending the NHL lockout with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, paid the obligatory compliments to Canuck fans and his former teammates before the Americans beat the Heat 5-2 on Friday night in Abbotsford.
But in an interview with a small group of reporters after Friday’s game-day skate, Hodgson brushed back attempts to dig a little deeper into his relationship with his past team.
“No, I try not to look back as much as possible,” he said. “I am here with the Rochester Americans and the Buffalo Sabres organization now and I have moved past that. Since the summer, I haven’t really looked back on it to tell you the truth. I really appreciated my time here and the people and fans always treated me really well.”
There’s more to the story that led to the surprise deadline-day deal last season that sent Hodgson and defenceman Alexander Sulzer to the Sabres in exchange for winger Zack Kassian and defenceman Marc-Andre Gragnani. We’re just not going to hear it from Hodgson’s lips.
He has turned the page on his time in Vancouver and wasn’t about to debate suggestions that he should not have been surprised by the trade because he, his family and agent had sought one.
“It did take me by surprise, I can tell you that,” Hodgson said. “I revisited it when I was back here (after being traded to the Sabres) and I don’t want to get into it. But like I said, I am thankful for the time I had in Vancouver and the fans for the way they treated me and especially the players also. I look back on it with fond memories.”
He did not mention general manager Mike Gillis or head coach Alain Vigneault.
Like so many other NHL players toiling in the AHL, Hodgson is hoping a labour deal can be struck to save a partial season. A marathon 18-hour trip Thursday from Rochester to Abbotsford that began and ended with a bus ride only served to reinforce that hope. Bring on those NHL charters and the five-star digs.
“Obviously I am following it like everyone else and as much as you guys want to see us play, I want to play just as bad,” Hodgson said.
Hodgson insists he is happy playing for the Americans. He’s recently returned after missing nearly six weeks and 14 games with a broken thumb.
“It was just a broken thumb so I was able to keep skating,” he said. “I probably skated more being injured than I would have had I been playing.”
Hodgson has played well since returning to the lineup on Dec. 15. He now has five goals and 19 points in 18 games.
“He started out a little slow, but that was just because he was out for two months basically, just with his timing and getting back to game tempo,” said Rochester coach Ron Rolston. “But after that he has been exceptional for us. He’s just a catalyst for us in all areas, defensively, offensively, creating power plays, faceoffs, he just does everything well.”
Hodgson is pencilled in to be the Sabres’ No. 2 centre should there be an NHL season. He knows the time he has spent with the Americans will serve him well if the NHL starts playing later this month.
“I think this is a huge advantage for the guys who are able to play,” Hodgson said. “There are a lot of guys still at home playing shinny with their dad’s men’s league or out on the frozen pond and stuff like that like you are little kid. I think it is definitely an advantage to get going like this and hopefully the season does start soon.”
Hodgson feels he is in the best shape of his pro career, thanks in large part to a full summer working with former player and current trainer Gary Roberts. He said he is not experiencing any more back issues.
“I had a great summer. Being off for four or five months I could really go through the whole Roberts program and I had some time to rest and let everything heal and really start from the ground up and build myself up.”
The Hodgson-Kassian trade figures to be one that will be debated by Canuck fans for years to come. Like Hodgson, Kassian is spending the lockout in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves. He, too, has 18 points this season, but has played 27 games.
“I think it was a good hockey trade,” Hodgson said. “Zack is a great player and is a young player as well. I think he’ll do great things for the organization and I wish him the best.”
ICE CHIPS: The Americans’ trek to Abbotsford on Thursday included a bus ride from Rochester to Buffalo, a flight from Buffalo to Phoenix, another flight from Phoenix to Seattle and a bus ride from Seattle to Abbotsford. “I coached the U.S. program in Ann Arbor (Michigan) and we had to go overseas three or four times a year and yesterday felt like we were going to Russia maybe,” Rolston said. The teams meet again Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.
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