That said, they clearly weren't fully satisfied with Hodgson's play, or they wouldn't have reassigned him in the first place. Suffice it to say, the coaching staff wants to see more out of him, which is why Alain Vigneault applied some substantial supplementary pressure today by effectively telling Cody Hodgson, by way of the media, that he had three games to prove he should stay in Vancouver this season.
At least that's how I interpret things. After his first callup, we at PITB speculated that the Canucks weren't just bringing Hodgson up to give him a taste of the NHL, as they had done with other prospects. Additionally, we argued, Hodgson was being given a last look as the 4th line center, perhaps the Canucks' only glaring weakness:
[If] Hodgson can't play centre at this level, Mike Gillis likely needs to acquire somebody via trade. None of their fourth-line centre candidates have worked, and the team doesn't want to go into the playoffs without one. [...] If Hodgson can show he's an NHL centre, then the Canucks can stand pat.
This was, of course, pure speculation until some shockingly frank talk from Alain Vigneault this afternoon. Here's the Canucks' bench boss, via Ben Kuzma, who's been on top of this all day:
"[Cody's] another option," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. "A natural centre and we've got a few games here before the trading deadline and another opportunity for him to get some experience to see where he is in his overall progression."
"A lot of things are up in the air," added Vigneault. "Obviously, our first three lines are pretty well set and we've tried different combinations with the fourth line and we still haven't come up with a final decision on that.
" [...] We still haven't found the elements to feel comfortable with right now."
It's not often you get such directness from a coach or general manager within the organization, especially when it comes to player personnel and potential trading, so it's impressive to hear Vigneault basically spell it out: if Hodgson can't prove he's capable of the job before the Feb. 28 deadline (3 games from now), Gillis will probably make a last-minute trade. But why would Vigneault go public with this, especially considering how prickly Canucks' management normally gets when asked about potential roster moves?
Because this wasn't for the public; it was a public challenge to Hodgson. Can he handle that? Maybe he should take a cue from Tanner Glass, who responds rather favorably to public challenges.
Wish him luck.