Saturday, February 12, 2011
Cody McCormick-a Perfect Role
The head honchos of the Buffalo Sabres huddled together about half an hour after their recent victory over the Florida Panthers. The teams had played evenly for four minutes and fifty-five seconds of overtime. Tyler Myers had slipped over the Cats blueline, and had blasted a slap shot at the Panthers’ net. Vokoun reacted just a tad slowly. The biscuit was in the basket. The red light scorched the plexiglass. Game over.
I caught up with Sabres’ coach Lindy Ruff in the coach’s room after the game. I told him I was penning some words on Cody McCormick. He beamed: “Cody has been a great role player for us. He is a fine two-way player.” Great praise from the veteran coach.
Last fall, McCormick went into the Sabres camp looking for employment in the NHL. He had spent the previous season with the AHL affiliate Portland team, and had played three playoff games for the Sabres. He had registered almost 200 games in the NHL in previous years, and another 200 in the AHL with a variety of teams: Hershey, Lowell, Albany, Lake Erie, and Portland.
McCormick had arrived in Buffalo as a free agent in August, 2009. But he began his quest to become a bona fide NHL player in 2001, after a brilliant OHL career with the Belleville Bulls. He was drafted in the Fifth Round, 144th overall in that draft by the Colorado Avalanche. In his final year with the Bulls, he was chosen as an OHL First Team All Star, and led the team in goals and penalty minutes. He was selected in a coaches’ poll as the “Hardest Worker” in the Conference. That, in a nut shell, tells you something about Cody McCormick.
In the recent game in Florida, Cody had a brief encounter with Darcy Hordichuk, the Panthers designated scrapper. This was early in the first period, they danced for a moment or two, then headed to the penalty box to serve five minute majors. At six feet three inches, tipping the scales at around two hundred and twenty pounds, McCormick does not shy away from the tough stuff. He leads the Sabres in penalties, and commands great respect from the opposition while on the ice.
Stirling’s Rob Roy has seen his fair share of hockey in Buffalo for many years, both as a player and as a media observer. He often does colour for Sabres television, and has become a well respected analyst. He did not mince words when assessing Cody’s performance this year. “Cody McCormick has done an awesome job this year,” he told me. “He has been the most consistent performer with the team. He works his tail off each and every game.”
When asked about his own personal performance this season, Cody deferred to the team approach. “At this point in the season, we are trying to get into the playoffs. This was a game we really needed,” he told me after the overtime win.
The Sabres were accompanied on the trip by several family members. I recognized Cody’s dad from his many visits to the Quinte Sports Centre. He had made the trip from Mount Brydges, near London, and he told me that he has enjoyed several games in Buffalo this year. “It’s closer than Belleville,” he told me, with a hint of justifiable pride in his voice.
The Sabres left the Sunshine State with two victories under their belts. They are on a bit of a roll, having won five of their last six games. In their game against Tampa Bay, McCormick tussled for the puck behind the Lightning net. He slid the slickest pass out to Thomas Vanek to earn an assist, and his fifteenth point this season. Yet another way in which McCormick contributes to the Sabres’ fortunes this year.
February 12, 2011