NHL: Gillis, Roberts Ensure Hodgson Stays A Hot Topic

Joe LaTengo | Updated May 02, 2012

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The trading of Cody Hodgson to the Buffalo Sabres created a lot of friction. The Earth moved under the Canucks fans’ feet on Monday, February 27, 2012 when the deal became known, and the reverberations are still being felt today.

On the day it happened, the Vancouver faithful made their views known. They weren’t happy at all: Facebook and Twitter were bombarded with comments, most of them caustically negative. While a few bemoaned the loss of “cute” Cody, most were up in arms because they saw a potential rookie of the year (Calder Trophy) candidate slipping through their fingers for an unheralded winger who had minimal impact above the minor-league level. (Two defensemen also exchanged sweaters that day: Alex Sulzer went East, while Marc-Andre Gragnani came West.) A poll taken at the time had a majority of respondents saying that the Sabres got the better end of the trade.

With the Sabres set to visit the Canucks in Vancouver on the Saturday after the deal, the sentiments among many ran along the lines of: “I hope CoHo scores a hat trick and shows the club how wrong they were to get rid of him.” That didn’t happen in Buffalo’s 5-3 victory at Rogers Arena: Hodgson was a +1 with three shots and almost 17 minutes of ice time, but he had no goals or assists.

Ironically, it was another former Canuck who scored the game-winner: defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who had spent much of the season on the disabled list. Kassian also acquitted himself well that night with a goal, an assist, three shots and seven hits in 10 minutes of action; it would be his best showing to date in a Canucks uniform.

Canucks general manager Mike Gillis was asked to comment about the trade in his end-of-season address to the media on Tuesday, April 24, and he made his now-famous comments: “There clearly were issues that were ongoing … I spent more time on Cody’s issues than every other player, combined, on our team the last three years” and “We made a determination that he didn’t want to be here (so) we built him into something we could move.”

Then longtime Calgary Flame and Toronto Maple Leaf forward Gary Roberts jumped in, calling Gillis a “moron.” Roberts, who has become a training and conditioning consultant to players such as Hodgson, Steven Stamkos, Michael Del Zotto and Jeff Skinner, has now apologized for his comment, probably regretting the fuel he’s thrown on the fire. Here’s another irony in all this: Roberts himself said he asked Hodgson his views on Gillis’s assessment, to which the young center reportedly replied, “I’ve dealt with a lot of stuff there in the past three years, and I’m just going to take the high road.”

It will take time for the dust to settle on the deal. Kassian and Gagnani could use some seasoning in the AHL, and Hodgson and Sulzer have not quite established themselves on the Sabres just yet; Hodgson has only 3 goals and 8 points in 20 appearances since the deal, with a -7 rating and an average of just over 17 minutes of ice time per game, while Sulzer has actually done better (3 goals 8 points in 15 games, with a +6 in 19 minutes per game).

Whether he likes it or not, Cody Hodgson remains a polarizing figure. Even (and perhaps especially) if he solidifies himself as Buffalo’s No. 2 center, it could be a while yet before the controversy surrounding Hodgson’s time on the West Coast goes away.

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