The Nashville Predators play the Colorado Avalanche tonight at Bridgestone Arena. Cody McLeod will lead the welcoming committee for his old team.
The Nashville Predators & Colorado Avalanche switch players pretty often considering they’re divisional rivals. Colin Wilson’s return to Nashville will get most of the headlines tonight. The Matt Duchene to Nashville Predators’ rumors have been going on for multiple seasons. The Predators haven’t acquired Duchene yet, but they did get another piece of the Avalanche offense back in January.
Cody McLeod went undrafted after four seasons with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. That didn’t stop him from working his way up the ranks. Eventually, the Colorado Avalanche noticed him & signed him to a contract.
For ten years, McLeod did whatever he could to help the Avalanche. He was the ultimate teammate. He became a fan favorite due to his grittiness. Former coach Patrick Roy made him an assistant captain.
After Roy’s departure, McLeod’s ice time diminished. He wanted to go somewhere where he could contend. The Nashville Predators needed somebody with McLeod’s abilities. The trade was made on January 13, 2017.
McLeod makes an impact
Prior to the trade, Nashville’s performance had been disappointing. There were a multitude of reasons, one was a lack of toughness. It seemed with Shea Weber gone that teams felt comfortable pushing the Predators around. Nashville needed an enforcer.
McLeod filled that role right away. His first game with the Predators was against his former team. Nashville was down 2-0 and looked pretty listless. Cody tried to get things going by picking a fight with Jarome Iginla, one of his former teammates. It sounds silly. It worked. The Predators woke up and stormed back to win the game 3-2. McLeod chipped in one of those goals.
A legend was born
Well, not quite a legend, honestly. McLeod only tallied four more points the rest of the regular season. He got a key goal in the Conference Semi-Finals, but other than that was scratched a good chunk of games. He got in a fight in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final that led to an Anaheim Ducks goal. Fortunately, Nashville scored two goal & won the game. McLeod even got credit from his teammates afterward, so no harm no foul.
McLeod’s relevant statistics are found at HockeyFights.com, which is a fun rabbit hole to fall into. His Corsica & Fenwick totals are better left unspoken. Points are few & far between. The only statistics McLeod excels at are penalty minutes, hits, and fights.
Back in the day, that really helped your jersey sales. I didn’t see any Cody McLeod jerseys at Bridgestone Arena back in May.
One thing I find interesting about McLeod is the things people say about him. He’s either the greatest teammate or the worst hockey player in the world depending on who you ask.
"““He’s not fun to play against but certainly the guys want him on your side of the trenches. It’s testament to his character and who he is. He’s got one of the toughest jobs, but yet he goes out there and does it year in, year out, day in, day out. He’s a leader, and guys follow him.”” – Gabriel Landeskog"
"“He’s not expected to score goals or put up points, but at this stage of his career and with the way the game is played, he doesn’t serve much purpose on the ice outside of the occasional dropping of the gloves. He fills his role serviceably, but it’s a role that most teams don’t even bother employing in today’s game. Also, as an appointed alternate captain, McLeod should be doing more as a leader. When the team nosedived at the end of the season, he should’ve been one to rally the troops and get them going. Whether that’s speaking up or trying to spark the team with a fight (He only had one fight in the final ten games), he should’ve taken it upon himself to get the boys going.” . – Jeremy Lambert, MileHighSticking.com"
"“That’s the reason why we signed him on a long-term deal. He’s not just a fourth-line guy,” “He’s a warrior, a great team guy and a great leader on this team.” – Patrick Roy"
Notice a trend? Players & coaches on the Colorado Avalanche loved him. People writing about the Colorado Avalanche didn’t.
It didn’t change in Nashville
I noticed a lot of hate directed towards McLeod while reading various Predators fansites last season. I also noticed his new teammates putting him over like a million dollars.
"“He’s been in the League a long time, he’s a veteran player and he brings a lot of leadership, and I like when you have experienced guys…They have a calming presence. He’s one of those guys. He just played his first home game the other night, but to me, it already seems like he’s been here for a while. I feel like he fits in perfectly.” – Pekka Rinne"
"“I literally cannot explain how McLeod has a job. He’s an older, slower, worse version of Austin Watson. I’m not Watson’s biggest fan but I understand how he helps the team.” – George Matarangas, Predlines.com"
"“In terms of advanced metrics, McLeod put up career lows this season. He is under contract for one more season, and, if all goes according to plan, will only see the ice in depth rolls as the 13th or 14th forward. At this point, it would be a surprise to see the Preds re-sign him after next season, but crazier things have happened.” – Eric Dunay, OnTheForecheck.com"
"“Cody has so much value to our team, What he brings in his physicality and his willingness to help any one of his teammates at any point, his energy that he brings in the room, those things — there are no measures unless you’re on the inside and dealing with him on a daily basis like we are.” – Peter Laviolette"
It’s no surprise that hockey players & coaches value different things than we do. As smart as hockey fans have gotten thanks to advanced statistics, we still can’t quite grasp the full picture.
The Ice Guardian
McLeod has a simple but important role on the Predators. He’s the enforcer. It’s a classic role on a hockey team that many feel is antiquated. However, there are plenty of people that feel it still serves a purpose.
If you have Netflix, you can view the 2016 documentary Ice Guardians at your leisure. It analyzes the role of the enforcer in hockey, going back to the very first hockey game ever played. The fact that it ended in a bench-clearing brawl explains a lot. Several of hockey’s great enforcers are interviewed, giving you a different look at the men behind the fists.
They admit that they aren’t as skilled as their teammates. Fighting was a way for them to get ahead in the sport. It was a way to get paid. Their teammates love & appreciate them for doing the dirty work.
People think the enforcer is going away. Its true that you don’t see as many as you used to. Philadelphia used to have an entire team of them. I can’t see it fully going away. Until the NHL bans fighting and dropping gloves means a multi-game suspension, fights will happen.
Every member of the Nashville Predators has a role they’re known for. Filip Forsberg scores goals. Scott Hartnell sits in front of the net and annoys the goalie. P.K. Subban defends and fires slap shots. Viktor Arvidsson skates around like a maniac.
Cody McLeod gets in fights. He keeps the Nashville Predators’ opponents honest. It’s not as glamorous as other roles, but it’s an important job & he does it as well as anybody.
The most polarizing?
I think most hockey observers would consider P.K. Subban the most polarizing player in the NHL. There’s no in-between with P.K. You really love him or you really hate him. As somebody that really loves him, I can’t understand the people that don’t. The people that don’t love him can’t understand where I’m coming from.
When P.K. arrived on the Nashville Predators roster last season, fans were split. Mostly due to the fact that it meant Shea Weber was leaving. It feels like Nashville has come to grips with the situation now. Winning helps!
Now it seems like Cody McLeod is the most debated player on the team. It’s strange considering that he averages six minutes of ice time. If he keeps averaging one fight per game he’ll spend more time in the box than on the ice this season.
Cody’s detractors would insert a snarky comment here about how that would be a good thing. Cody’s defenders, however, would say he’s doing his job perfectly.
Maybe it’s one of those things where online opinion doesn’t reflect what’s shown in the stands. Cody’s fights never fail to get a cheer from the Bridgestone Arena faithful. You don’t hear people booing when he’s out there. The only time I see Cody McLeod hate is when I turn on my computer.
Eye Test vs. Analytics
It comes down to how you like your hockey. Are you a traditional hockey fan? Do low-scoring games float your boat? Are you the type of fan that jumps out of your seat when the gloves drop and the fists fly? Do you love the hockey players that you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley? If so, you probably love having Cody McLeod in the Nashville Predators lineup.
Or are you a new school hockey fan? Are Corsi & Fenwick your favorite things? Do you want only players that are very effective on offense? If so, you hate Cody McLeod and wish he’d go back to Colorado or British Columbia or anywhere other than Nashville.
Cody will be in Nashville at least this season. If he doesn’t stay, hopefully men like Austin Watson are learning from his example. Every good hockey team needs somebody like Cody McLeod, even if he doesn’t light up the scoreboard or stat book.