“Who cares about the future? We want to win now!”
This is the sentiment from so many Canucks fans whose only concern is winning a Stanley Cup here and now, with no thought to what will occur down the road.
Not much is happening, so we’re talking about Cody Hodgson these days, which is fine because he is going to be front and centre (or winger) as soon as the season begins.
As you are well aware, with the injuries to Kesler and Raymond, there will be holes to fill, and many are hoping to see Hodgson finally get a real chance with the Canucks.
Sure, he played 8 games last year, but the opportunity didn’t exactly promote instant success.
As Tony Gallagher wrote in his article in The Province yesterday:
He was thrust into a fourth-line role, which he accepted and did the best he could.
Yesterday morning on the Team 1040, Ray Ferraro echoed the sentiment, saying that the Hodgson’s situation last season was like forcing a square peg into a round hole.
When Did It All Change
A funny thing happened since Hodgson entered the NHL. Canucks fans went from being filled with apathy upon being told that Hodgson would play his first game – if you have forgotten, read this article for a flashback – to wanting him to play out the games near the end of the season and be relied upon in the playoffs. This sarcastic comment in a post by PITB sums it up:
Now, we want to call Cody Hodgson up for four more NHL games, then toss him into the playoff mix – where the hockey changes yet again – in a role for which he’s woefully unsuited?
Exactly. Hodgson had already played and shown what he could do on the 4th line, which was not much. The 4th line is no place for a skilled young player, especially one coming off injuries, and one who is still learning how to be responsible defensively.
Good fourth liners keep the puck out of their own end, dump and chase, and forecheck hard. They do not play a puck possession game or have any chance to be creative offensively.
I’m not saying that Canucks’ management did not have a sound plan. Mike Gillis said all along that he wanted Hodgson to be brought up for a stint with the Canucks to experience what it’s like to play with the big club. He stuck to his tune.
Yet, with 4 games remaining on the season, Manny Malhotra injured, and Kesler playing too many minutes in games that didn’t matter, the city was clamouring for Hodgson to play.
No heed was paid to the fact that should he play 10 games, the first year of his 3-year entry level deal would kick in.
Mike Gillis wisely held back. Down the road, that one extra year at a miniscule cap hit, and the money saved, will be worth far more than his playing 3 or 4 more games in a limited role.
Gillis has an eye to the future. He sees that once the Sedins’ and Kesler’s play has declined in 7 or 8 years, if he wants to mimic the consistency of the Red Wings – who were well equipped to continue after the Steve Yzerman era – Hodgson’s going to be the man leading the way.
Not yet ready to be a contributing NHLer in 2010-11, Hodgson was wisely held back. This season is a different story, however, and now we may finally watch the beginnings of the future of this team.