October 8, 2008 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - North Bay Battalion
BRAMPTON, Ont. - Cody Hodgson is back to lead the Brampton Battalion and will wear the captain\'s \'C\' to illustrate the fact.
Centre Hodgson was named the ninth captain in club history Wednesday when he returned to practice, two days after being assigned to the Battalion from the National Hockey League\'s Vancouver Canucks, who made him the 10th overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft in June.
"It\'s a huge honour," said Hodgson, 18, who succeeds graduated defenceman John de Gray. "It\'s a great organization that has had some great captains. We have a wealth of leadership here, and I\'m fortunate to be named the captain."
Said coach Stan Butler: "Cody\'s an elite player at this level. He has great leadership qualities and he makes the people around him better. People like that are few and far between. Cody is all business on and off the ice. He knows what it takes to be a player and he prepares very well both on and off the ice."
Centre Thomas Stajan, who served as captain for the first five games of the Ontario Hockey League season, and defenceman Brad Albert were appointed fulltime alternate captains. Centre Matt Duchene and left winger Luke VanMoerkerke are to act as alternates on a rotating basis.
"I\'m ready to get right back into it," Hodgson said as the Battalion prepared to open a three-game road trip against the Windsor Spitfires at 7:05 p.m. Thursday. "We\'ve got four games ahead in five days. It should be fun. I felt a little off yesterday after flying home, but I\'m ready to go now.
"I went out there and tried my best. It was disappointing to come back, but I did all I could. I accepted their decision and I\'m happy to be back. We have a great team here with a lot of good players, and I\'m looking forward to playing with them again."
The Battalion visits the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Friday night before completing the trip with the opener of a home-and-home series with the Sudbury Wolves on Saturday night. The Troops host Sudbury at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Monday.
Hodgson, a resident of Markham, Ont., said he spoke to some Battalion teammates for updates on the Troops, who have a won-lost-extended record of 2-3-0.
"The guys said we had been playing well and outshooting teams but we couldn\'t find any goals. We\'ve got some offensive guys here, and if we do our job that will go a long way to helping us win."
The Battalion has added Hodgson and left winger Evgeny Grachev, assigned to the club by the NHL\'s New York Rangers last Wednesday, in the last week, upgrading its firepower. Prospective overage right winger John Hughes, released from a free-agent tryout by the AHL\'s Syracuse Crunch on Monday, still is considering his options.
Hodgson played three preseason games with the Canucks, earning one assist. He said he found himself in heady company against the host Anaheim Ducks on Sept. 28.
"Most of the teams dressed full lineups, and against Anaheim I was killing a penalty against Teemu Selanne, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. It was pretty intense and fast. I loved that."
Hodgson, who signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Canucks on Sunday, said he had no idea what the immediate future held for him when he had his final meeting with club management.
"I felt I had played well, and in the meeting they told me it had nothing to do with my play, there was just no room for me there. They had too many players, and I didn\'t fit there right now. They said they had spent a lot of time debating whether to keep me, but they told me that instead of playing a few minutes a night on the fourth line in the NHL that I could come back here and play a lot."