Cody Hodgson may receive a warm welcome back to Vancouver from the fans that quickly warmed to him during this Rookie of the Year candidate season. His ex-Canucks teammates weren’t so kind.
With all the hype on Hodgson and Zack Kassian playing their former teams just five days after the promising former first-round picks were swapped for each other as part of a four-player deal at the NHL Trade Deadline, the best material after the morning skate came from the rest of the Canucks, who were having a good time with Hodgson’s quick return as a Buffalo Sabre – not to mention his large head and fashion sense.
“Slow feet, big head,” joked defenseman Kevin Bieksa when asked if he had a scouting report on facing Hodgson. “No, he’s a good player. … I feel we put a lot of time into him this year and he’s in a lot better place now than he was at the beginning of the year. He’s dressing a lot better now.”
Vancouver goaltender Roberto Loungo was asked about facing Ryan Miller at Rogers Arena for the first time since the 2010 Olympic gold-medal game.
“I’m a bit more worried about their superstar, Cody,” Luongo said, before delivering his own scouting report in a perfect deadpan. “He’s got a huge head. Apart from that, he’s very skilled, good vision, quick release.”
Hodgson was able to laugh off jokes he probably knew were coming.
“They like to make fun of me for that,” Hodgson, who is known for his smarts on the ice, said of his head size. “Hopefully I put it to good use tonight.”
As for Kassian, he admitted there is extra motivation playing the Sabres.
“Definitely I feel I have something to prove to the Sabres and to Vancouver,” he said. “As a young player in this League you have to make a name for yourself and being traded away from Buffalo I want to play well and show them what I could have been and I want to show Vancouver they didn’t make a mistake.”
That includes being physical – even against ex-teammates and good friends – something Kassian said he wouldn’t hesitate to do Saturday night.
“Once the game is over you go back to being friends,” he said.
The same goes for Hodgson’s ex-teammates.
“Once the puck drops there’s no friends out there,” Bieksa said. “I don’t know if you’ll see a couple guys take a run at Cody or not, but it will be all in good fun.”
It may just hurt a little more than the jokes about head size and shirt choice.