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Hodgson close to perfect

Tuesday, 02.03.2009 / 1:00 AM / In The System

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Cody Hodgson doesn't have a golden halo floating over his head, but to some who know him well, he's as close to the model hockey player as they'll ever see.

"People are looking for warts on this kid," Stan Butler told NHL.com, "and there are none."

If anyone would have found them by now, it would have been Butler, who has coached Hodgson the last three seasons with the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League.

Instead, what he has is someone who might not do any one thing spectacular, but does anything and everything asked of him to best of his abilities -- abilities that earned him the honor of being the 10th player picked in the 2008 Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks.

"He's a steal at 10 in the draft," said Butler.

A look at the numbers and performances back that up, but that's not all that makes the 6-foot, 185-pound center special.

"He brings great leadership," said Butler. "He's the pulse of our team. He controls the heart of our team. He's such a confident kid and mature person. That increases what other guys are capable of doing."

He certainly increased what his team was able to do at the 2009 World Junior Championship. Centering the second line, Hodgson led the tournament with 11 assists and 16 points, including 2 goals and an assist in the gold-medal game as Canada won its fifth straight under-20 world championship.

He also served as an alternate captain and was used in all situations by coach Pat Quinn.

"He's a leader, he's smart," said Quinn. "He's just a guy you depend on in key situations and he usually comes through. ... I had no doubt any time I used him."

This was Quinn's second opportunity to coach Hodgson. At the 2008 World Under-18 Championship, Hodgson served as team captain and led the tournament in scoring with 12 points as Canada took home the gold medal.

"He's terrific," said Quinn. "I can't say enough about the young man, both as a young man and how he approaches playing this game."

It hasn't just been coaches who have noticed, either. Thomas Hickey served as captain for Canada at the World Juniors, and came away from his first prolonged exposure to Hodgson highly impressed.

"I don't know if it's fair for me to say because I'm just a kid, too, but he's like a young man," Hickey told NHL.com. "He's so mature. The way he plays and acts off the ice, he rubs off on his teammates. He's just so smart out there, and it's the same off the ice. He seems older than he really is."

Hodgson also serves a leadership role with the Battalion, taking over as captain this season. Despite missing time for the World Juniors, he's tied for the team lead with 21 goals, and he's second to Matt Duchene with 46 points.

Again, though, his leadership isn't limited to his impressive on-ice exploits.

Hodgson and Duchene have been friends and teammates since playing on a major-tyke team together at age 4. They played house-league hockey together, and Hodgson arrived in Brampton one season before Duchene.

"I've always leaned on Cody my whole OHL career," Duchene, NHL Central Scouting's No. 2-ranked North American skater for the 2009 Entry Draft, told NHL.com. "He and I go way back. Last year coming in as a rookie I leaned on him a lot. This year I know who to go to."

"He's like a young man. He's so mature. The way he plays and acts off the ice, he rubs off on his teammates. He's just so smart out there, and it's the same of the ice. He seems older than he really is."
-- Thomas Hickey

They work out every summer, shooting pucks for an hour or more each day, with Hodgson biking from his cottage to Duchene's -- 35 kilometers each way, through hill country.

"That's my training routine," Hodgson told NHL.com. "We're talking about 35 kilometers one way, up and down hills. It's hill country. It's like a shift, 40-50 seconds up a hill and then coast on the way down. This is my third year, fourth year (doing it). I just enjoy it. I enjoy the scenery outside from being up at my cottage, so it combines them both."

Butler isn't surprised to hear about Hodgson's Tour de France-style training regimen.

"That's just a guy that's focused," said Butler. "The elite players are elite because they're so focused. These are guys that are driven and they're willing to do what it takes to get there."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.


Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure