Let’s get right to the point, Mr. Hodgson:
It’s August. You’re a restricted free-agent who was the second-leading scorer for the Buffalo Sabres last season. The Sabres should have signed you a while ago, in order to be able to devote the entire focus of the organization on the upcoming training camp.
Instead, the Sabres and yourself are currently involved in a game of chicken. You almost certainly want to be handed a long-term contract worth big money. The Sabres probably feel as if your game has too many holes still to warrant such a contract. Buffalo would be stupid not to sign you, but the team would likewise be stupid to bend their knee and give you a contract that he has not earned yet.
As for you, CoHo . . . well, could it be you’re just plain stupid, regardless?
First of all, don’t tell me it’s not stupid for wanting more money. Everyone wants more money – that doesn’t make it right, or smart. If you’ve earned it and want to ask your boss for a raise, you’re smart. If you have not earned it and try to play hardball, you’re dumb, and could wind up losing your job. Wanting more money when you have not earned it is a result of greed and vanity, so telling me that you are smart to hold out for big bucks is flat-out wrong.More importantly, Cody Hodgson: you have already earned a reputation that any self-respect professional athlete should be working to dispel, not further add to. I made it a point to go back in time this morning and do a little research regarding how your trade from Vancouver to Buffalo went down. (Here’s a link to the article over at SportsNet that I am relying on the most.) You cannot find many people in Vancouver who feel like they got the better end of the deal, yet Vancouver’s GM Mike Gillis has no regrets about making the trade that sent a blossoming young player to Buffalo in exchange for Zack Kassian – none. Why not? Well, as Gillis put it,
“I spent more time on Cody’s issues than every other player combined on our team the last three years. We made a determination that he didn’t want to be here; we built him into something we could move.” (This quotation can be found at The Globe and Mail.)
And what were some of those issues, you ask? Try this naive response you made on for size:
“I spoke to the coach about my role on the team. That’s not unusual.”
Not unusual – for a seasoned veteran, Cody. You were a rookie at the time. Worse, you allowed your agent Ritch Winter, who almost certainly is your agent because of his relationship with your father, to go public on Twitter announcing that you had met with then-Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault. It’s bad enough that you overstepped your bounds, and then allowed your agent to embarrass the Vancouver organization, but the worst part of all of this is that, when you were inevitably traded, you seemed genuinely surprised:
“I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. I never saw it coming.”
So fast forward to August of 2013, and you have yet to reach a deal with the Buffalo Sabres. Look, Cody: you’re a pretty good player who has benefited from being a part of a team who is weak up the middle. You play on the first line for the Sabres, yes – but honestly, on most other teams you’re a second- or even third-line player at this stage of your career. You burned some bridges while in Vancouver without apparently even realizing it, but you can only argue that your mistakes were the result of being young once. It’s been two full seasons since the trade, and one would think that you are a little bit wiser now that you have matured and had time to reflect on what went down. As of right now, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Allow me to end by reminding you of a true hockey superstar named Eric Lindros. Lindros was undoubtedly the best player of his generation, but there are two things he is known for more than his talent: his unfortunate history of concussions, and the fact that he had crazy-ass controlling parents who allowed him to think of himself as more important than the game of hockey itself. You’re no Eric Lindros, Mr. Hodgson – or, should I say, you don’t have the talent of Eric Lindros. Whether or not you become more like the negative aspects of Lindros is up to you. Be honest; work on your game; accept the contract you deserve, and go from there. Should you become the superstar you possibly already think you are, I’m sure the Sabres and Terry “Moneybags” Pegula will be glad to throw boatloads of cash at you. That day hasn’t come yet, though, so learn from your past and end this charade before more people begin to associate the names Hodgson and Lindros on a regular basis.