A Little Motivation For Cody Hodgson

By now, you’ve probably heard the news that the Canucks made a minor roster adjustment this morning, sending Evan Oberg back down to the Moose and calling up Cody Hodgson in his place. For Canuck fans, it’s good news all across the board, as Oberg’s reassignment means that Dan Hamhuis will jump back into the lineup on Tuesday, and Cody Hodgson’s second invitation means that the Canucks liked what they saw from him two weeks ago.

That said, they clearly weren’t fully satisfied with Hodgson’s play, or they wouldn’t have reassigned him in the first place. Suffice it to say, the coaching staff wants to see more out of him, which is why Alain Vigneault applied some substantial supplementary pressure today by effectively telling Cody Hodgson, by way of the media, that he had three games to prove he should stay in Vancouver this season.

At least that’s how I interpret things. After his first callup, we at PITB speculated that the Canucks weren’t just bringing Hodgson up to give him a taste of the NHL, as they had done with other prospects. Additionally, we argued, Hodgson was being given a last look as the 4th line center, perhaps the Canucks’ only glaring weakness:

[If] Hodgson can’t play centre at this level, Mike Gillis likely needs to acquire somebody via trade. None of their fourth-line centre candidates have worked, and the team doesn’t want to go into the playoffs without one. [...] If Hodgson can show he’s an NHL centre, then the Canucks can stand pat.

This was, of course, pure speculation until some shockingly frank talk from Alain Vigneault this afternoon. Here’s the Canucks’ bench boss, via Ben Kuzma, who’s been on top of this all day:

“[Cody's] another option,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. “A natural centre and we’ve got a few games here before the trading deadline and another opportunity for him to get some experience to see where he is in his overall progression.”

“A lot of things are up in the air,” added Vigneault. “Obviously, our first three lines are pretty well set and we’ve tried different combinations with the fourth line and we still haven’t come up with a final decision on that.

” [...] We still haven’t found the elements to feel comfortable with right now.”

It’s not often you get such directness from a coach or general manager within the organization, especially when it comes to player personnel and potential trading, so it’s impressive to hear Vigneault basically spell it out: if Hodgson can’t prove he’s capable of the job before the Feb. 28 deadline (3 games from now), Gillis will probably make a last-minute trade. But why would Vigneault go public with this, especially considering how prickly Canucks’ management normally gets when asked about potential roster moves?

Because this wasn’t for the public; it was a public challenge to Hodgson. Can he handle that? Maybe he should take a cue from Tanner Glass, who responds rather favorably to public challenges.

This is an expert piece of motivation. For Hodgson, this callup instantly becomes more than just a chance to crack an NHL roster. He’s been brought up from the minors to a cup-contending team with one major hole, and asked to convince them that he’s the guy to fill it. This isn’t about proving he’s part of the future; this is about being a part of something potentially groundbreaking right now. Hodgson knows what this team is capable of this year, and he’s got three games to earn the right to be part of it. He’s got three games to prove he shouldn’t be chasing the Calder Cup, he should be chasing the Stanley Cup.

Wish him luck.

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11 comments

  1. Anonymous
    February 21, 2011

    For once I don't entirely agree. I think the Canucks were happy with what they saw from Hodgson during his first call up. At the time they sent him back down the Moose were about to play 5 games in 9 nights and the Canucks really wanted him to have some significant playing time especially as he was just coming back from an injury. Now those games have been played and he's had a chance to get some good minutes, he is back with the big club.

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  2. The Belgian Canucks Fan
    February 21, 2011

    Go Cody Go!
    Is there the same supersition in hockey than in theater? I mean a clasic well-whish in theater is "break a leg" but it's maybe a bit rough for a hockey player?
    I like hime, and I hope he can be a part of the team!

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  3. VanCity Mike
    February 21, 2011

    You know what I like about you, PiTB? You think. You look at a situation and then you think about it…twice. You do not seem to react in a knee-jerk fashion like so many other voices out there; nor do you write a story to antagonize. You analyse, extrapolate on an idea and communicate your conclusions – effectively and succinctly.

    Yeah, Cody Hodgson is being given a chance one more time. Yeah, he only has three games to secure his spot this time around. Yeah, he's not yet proven he can stick at the NHL level (sound the BUST alarm)!

    I disagree with the alarmists who write him off so soon – it's his first pro year, folks! But that's another story.

    What I hadn't considered was your final point – he has a choice…AHL playoffs or Stanley Cup playoffs. I'll be watching him differently over the next three games thanks to this perspective. It will be fascinating to see if his urgency changes knowing he's getting his last chance THIS YEAR.

    Thanks for taking this issue and making a fresh point.

    Smash the Glass on Wednesday, Harrison!

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  4. Anonymous
    February 21, 2011

    Three-quarters Do Not Make A Hole Unless You're Edmonton.

    So sixty games have now been played,
    And your Vancouver leads the race.
    Chicago fans are quite dismayed
    At scrambling hard to find a place.

    In the world twenty games ahead
    Right now the Stars would meet the 'Nucks,
    But Van could meet the Hawks instead
    Or possibly the Kings or Ducks.

    And Detroit's been known to finish fast.
    Thus it could be the Wild or Flames
    Cast future hopes into the past
    By winning four of seven games.

    Then there's the Preds and San Jose
    Whom might be met in the first round.
    Can Hank and Dan cycle their way;
    Will the defence again be sound?

    Can MayRay start to rush the net,
    Luongo learn to pass the puck?
    Will Ry and Al deflections get,
    And Lady lend a little luck?

    Can all four lines be good enough
    To contribute each as they must
    Will the “D” be stalwart and tough
    And each man prove his coaches' trust

    Would the Canucks survive round one,
    Against Phoenix or the Blues;
    And please their fans with four games won?
    'Twould be a shame if they should lose.

    And should they win then it's round two,
    Followed by rounds three and four,
    Where Wings and Hawks and Flyers flew,
    And other teams one can't ignore.

    So one by one the teams will fall.
    You know perchance it is your year:
    Your special team could win it all.
    Such fear-filled fun with playoffs near!

    Chicken Chick

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  5. Qris Johnson
    February 21, 2011

    I misread "Calder Cup" as "Calder Trophy" and thought, that's an interesting idea… he couldn't contend for the Calder if he plays a 20-game rookie season. He could be sent down and compete next year, but he'd probably prefer the Stanley Cup.

    Funny thought.

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  6. Harrison Mooney
    February 21, 2011

    That'd be hilarious. Send me down, coach, I don't want to blow my Calder eligibility this season.

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  7. Gabrielle
    February 21, 2011

    I thought the same at first. And Chicken Chick, it's "Three quarters do not make a WHOLE." Unless you meant to say "hole", in which case I'm not sure what that means.

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  8. Anonymous
    February 21, 2011

    Gabrielle

    It's the "hole" in which the oilers find themselves after sixty of eight games.

    CC

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  9. beninvictoria
    February 21, 2011

    sixty of eight eh Chicken Chick?

    Why is Hodgson so orange in that picture? Is he "The Thing"?
    If so I say we keep him.

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  10. Harrison Mooney
    February 21, 2011

    Hey guys, don't pick on Chicken Chick. If it weren't for her, we would be woefully under-poemed.

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  11. Anonymous
    February 22, 2011

    They sent him down because of our D situation. there was no cap space to keep him up without putting others on LTIR. now that it is cleared up a little they can see if he can handle the 4th line for the stretch run here.

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