April 23, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton (4) handles the puck as Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) and center Cody Hodgson (19) defend during the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Buffalo Sabres won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres New Captain Should Be . . . Cody Hodgson?

Last week, I made the case for Thomas Vanek being named the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres.  Granted, I relied on emotion rather than logic when I made my decision, and was accused (politely, I must say) of not taking the ‘C’ as seriously as I should.   Mainly, readers shied away from endorsing Vanek as the team captain due to the fact that there is a very good chance that he will not be around when the Sabres begin their 2014-2015 season, and readers want the Sabres to select a player who will lead the Sabres well into the future.

Mar 30, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Cody Hodgson (19) before the game against the Washington Capitals at the First Niagara Center. Capitals beat the Sabres 4-3 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Well, if that’s the case, then the Buffalo Sabres might want to sit down and take a long, hard look at whether Cody Hodgson should be the next player to wear the ‘C’ on his sweater.

I’ll be the first person to say that I am not in love with the youth movement that is sweeping the ranks of captains in the NHL.  One reader told me that he didn’t feel that the responsibility should be a lifetime achievement award, but I disagree (to a certain extent).   Players who spend years doing their damnedest to elevate their teams should naturally be considered for the position of captain over younger players who have not invested as much time and hard work, provided the veteran players have also represented the franchise well through their on- and off- ice behavior.  You can disagree all you want, but not much you can say is going to change my opinion on that.

However, not every situation is the same, and sometimes, unique situations call for unique approaches.  The Buffalo Sabres are a young team with a handful of veterans, a few of who are not expected to be wearing blue and gold for more than one final season, so I’d say the team finds itself in a fairly unique position.  Handing the ‘C’ to a veteran like Vanek or Ehrhoff might be great for the short-term, but may only result in the team being captain-less once again this time next year.  Solution?  Enter Cody Hodgson, the Sabres’ captain of the future.

Over the summer, I openly wondered whether Hodgson was going to drag out contract negotiations and further his reputation for being a headache for both his teammates and upper management, as he was labeled during his stint in Vancouver.  Hodgson did not, as these contract negotiations featured no drama and ended with Hodgson surprising me by settling for a deal that keeps him Buffalo for six years at the price of a second- or third-line center, instead of the first-line bucks he might have been able to secure had he signed a two-year extension and then tested the waters of free agency.  It would appear that Hodgson was more interested in seeing the club make a long-term investment in him than he was in trying to drive his value up, and as a fan, I must say that is the type of commitment I wish more players would make to their clubs.

Think about the message that CoHo’s contract sends to the young players in the Sabres’ system: money isn’t everything.  Don’t go crazy – Hodgson is still wealthy, in a way that you and I may never experience.  Still, there is little doubt that accepting a bridge contract now would have resulted in a larger payday two years down the road.  Signing his new contract shows his teammates that this team is the team he wants to be on, even though it is entering a period of great uncertainty.   Leaving money on the table to dedicate himself to a team that is in full-blown rebuilding mode?   If that isn’t leadership material, then I have no idea what is.

If Hodgson is as committed to improving the weaknesses in his game as he is to remaining in Buffalo, then I would have no problem with Ron Rolston having the ‘C’ sewn onto his sweater.  He has handled his successes and slumps as a member of the Buffalo Sabres equally well, and has just taken a significant leap of faith along with the Sabres’ front office.  With a team as young as we have right now in the 716, Cody Hodgson may be just the man to lead them forward into the playoffs, and beyond.



Tags: Buffalo Sabres Cody Hodgson

  • Kevin

    I get what your saying, However, I have one fear. Will that be too much exception’s on the young lad and hinder his growth?

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      I dunno – I think it would seem that he is ready to be “the man,” based on his commitment to the squad. Rolston needs to be the judge of that, anyway!

      • erico

        since Ott is already in extension talks. What he brings to the group at the start of the season will determine his status.

        He will be signed to an extension and get the C by american thanksgiving. his extension will be 3 years/ 3.5m.

        Vanek will get an A if he stays. if he leaves, Hodgson will get it. Ehrhoff gets the other A

  • Jack Goods

    You want a captain who is going to be around for a while, that guy would be Ehrhoff. His contract goes even further than Hodgson’s and seems to be a safe bet to not get traded. I think that just makes way more sense than Hodgson.

  • Caitlin Campbell

    Finally you’ve seen the light!

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      Well, I’m saying it would be an option that I could understand and endorse. I still feel Vanek has earned it, but if the team wants CoHo to lead the next generation of players, I’m on board.

  • erico

    Frankly who knows who will be the Captain. Thats for Rolston too choose. The player who outspeaks to the fans and media may not be the leader in the dressing room. Rolston is still getting to know each indivdual and to figure out where they are at. He will work from there too choose. His decision may surprise a lot of people

    • Nuthatch

      Maybe Rolston won’t even be the one to choose the captain. I tend to side with the players choosing their captain. He’s the one who speaks for them both on & off the ice. Seems to me he should be of their choosing.

  • qwicwted

    I think eventually Hodgson will be Captain, but this season he needs to focus on his development and improving his d and faceoff capabilities. I don’t want someone who’s stance is “I don’t know if I want to stay or leave, I’ll see what happens” leading my team. What type of message does that give to our youngsters. I like the way Hodgson worked with management to extend his stay in Buffalo – his contract speaks volumes – it tells me he wants to be in Buffalo, he wants to grow and lead the team. He asked Buffalo for a commitment and in return he gave Buffalo his commitment.
    I have said it before – it is up to Vanek to decide whether he wants to be “the man”, and mold this team into “his team” or if he is just biding his time. On the other hand – Ott is a fan favorite – I believe if Buffalo wants him to stay, they will sign him to an extension and I can see him being made Captain.

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  • chas territo

    Vanek is no on-ice leader and he is not outspoken enough to be a captain for the Sabres! Hodgson is a one dimensional goal scorer! Until he plays a full season, he is not even close to being a captain. Unless you all forgot…Defense and back checking are 2 things he is(?) afraid of, so, where or how can he be in this conversation about our captaincy?I’m still a Steve Ott backer, but like someone (Jack Goods)said, Erhoff would also be a good candidate for captain of the Sabres!!

  • Jes

    To early in his career to name him captain. I don’t think he’d be a good captain right now. Not very vocal. Neither is Vanek. Clear cut guy who protects the team on and off the ice is Ott. He is very vocal. I’d give an “A” to Vanek and Ehrhoff. Once Vanek leaves I’d give his “A” to Myers. And if Darcy somehow ends up screwing up resigning Ott I’d say Ehrhoff for captain, even though he isn’t very vocal. I’d keep the letter away from Stafford. And the other “A” would go to Hodgson.

    • Joe Mazurkiewicz

      I really can’t disagree w/you.I believe Steve Ott should have the “C” as he embodies what I think a Buffalo Sabre TEAM should be.Maybe as alt’s I would have Mike Weber & Pat Kaleta. Just thinking out loud.

      • Jes

        Totally forgot about Weber. I’d put him in consideration as well for one of the “A’s” but definitely a hell no on Kaleta. Guys a total goofball lol.

  • erico

    okay nobody knows who is vocal or not. a player might talk to the media a lot and speak their mind but doesnt mean their a leader in the dressing room. the players will decide their leader but only time will tell

  • coug56

    What about Mike Weber. He’s young, but I saw him taking on some of that responsibility last season after Pommer was traded.