May 01, 2012

Gary Roberts' Interesting Comments On Cody Hodgson

This is Gary Roberts. As a player he was one of the most respected warriors of his era. Nowadays he is hockey's most famous fitness guru, with Steven Stamkos, Brayden Schenn, Jeff Skinner, James Neal, Jordan Staal and Cody Hodgson among his disciples.

His revolutionary and wildly successful devotion to diet and core training has earned him even more respect and the trust of the entire NHL world. He is developing more NHL talent on his own than many NHL organizations are with all their millions of dollars. So when he speaks about one of his clients, people listen.

Which makes his comments about the whole Cody Hodgson situation all the more interesting.

Hodgson of course was traded away from Vancouver to Buffalo at the trade deadline. In the aftermath of the Canucks quick exit from the playoffs, Canucks GM Mike Gillis threw Hodgson under the bus, claiming he was a problem child that the team needed to rid themselves of.

“I listened to Mike Gillis the other day,” Roberts said, “and my impression was, ‘Are you kidding me?’

“If anybody knew this kid, this young man, to know what he went through mentally and physically for two summers trying to find out what the heck was wrong with him — of course they dealt with his issues more than anybody else in the organization because he was injured and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him.

“It almost was like they thought he didn’t want to work. Well, I can tell you that this kid, out of all the kids that I train, he’s up there in the Stamkos group as far as commitment and determination. What I tell him, he does, so I know he’s coachable and I love working with him.”

So who do we believe here? No one is as trusted and respected as Roberts, but why would Gillis create controversy? Where there is smoke there is fire, but why fan the flames?

I believe both are right. Gillis was not just trying to defend his controversial trade. The relationship was fractured (though maybe not as bad as many have jumped to conclude) and it was decided it was best to part ways.

But Roberts also talked about Hodgson's desire and devotion, and how he has overcome serious injury and with a full summer of training will be ready for a breakout campaign. He is an excellent fit in Buffalo, and it would not surprise me to see Cody Hodgson in the 65 point range next season.

I like Zack Kassian a lot, but I doubt he puts up the same point totals as Hodgson. Unless Kassian's physical play (which was disappointing in his short stint so far in Vancouver) can dominate, it is easy to see how this trade will blow up in Vancouver's face. I have been saying that since the day of the trade. And I actually like the trade.

But I also have to wonder if Gillis' comments could also blow up in the Canucks' face. If he is exaggerating Hodgson's ways, how does that play out in the Vancouver dressing room? Surely the players know Hodgson's character better than anyone. And how does this play out with the potential free agent pool? Would a top free agent possibly pass on Vancouver because of a) the way the fans are trying to chase away their star goalie and b) the way the manager has been perceived to throw a player under the bus?

I have an uneasy feeling that the Cody Hodgson will haunt Mike Gillis and the Canucks for years to come.

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