When the Predators elected to not bring back Dan Hamhuis, money wasn’t the only determining factor. There was a young defenseman that management felt comfortable enough with to let go of the longest-tenured blueliner on the team at the time. His name is Cody Franson.
The lanky 6’5” British Columbia native made big strides as the 2009/10 season went on, earning a spot in the playoff lineup for four playoff games last spring.
We sat down with Franson during training camp, who signed a two-year, $1.6 million contract on September 9.
RLD: How has training camp been going so far? Cody Franson: It’s been really good. We’ve had some high-tempo scrimmages and solid practices. There’s been a high compete level in our camp this year so far. It’s made for a tough camp.
RLD: What kind of relief was it to get the contract done? CF: It was a big relief. It’s something that you try not to think about too much in the other parts of the summer. But as the summer goes on, you get closer to camp, you start to worry about it a little bit. It was nice to get it done when it happened.
RLD: Is there any specific reason to changing numbers from 32 to 4? CF: I didn’t like 32 as much, it wasn’t really a defenseman’s number. I wore 4 in my first set of games when I was playing junior, and then my first year when I stuck there I went to 6. 4 worked well for me there, so I figured to give it a shot here with everything else being taken.
RLD: Last year, you went up and down between Milwaukee and Nashville… and each time you came back, you seemed more confident. Did you feel more comfortable with each call-up? CF: Yeah, a little bit; it’s just like anything else – you play more games, you get more confidence and more comfortable. It seems to slow down the game a bit for ya. Luckily enough for me, it kind of followed suit in that last year.
RLD: As a defenseman, you shoot a lot from the point. Is that something you work on frequently? CF: A lot. After every practice, we’re out there shooting pucks for a while. That’s one thing I work on… just trying to get things away quick and not the big wind-up all the time. With guys the way they play now come out and block shots. They’ve got it down to an art, so it’s something we gotta keep up on our end of things to try to get it through ‘em.
RLD: As a rookie last year, what was it like playing with two Olympians, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter? CF: It was great. You can learn a lot from those two guys, and that’s what I tried to do last year. Just take as much in as possible and try to apply it to the way I play, kind of try to make myself a more complete player doing so.
RLD: What was your ‘Welcome to the NHL’ moment? CF: My first game when we were in Washington. On my second shift, I had a one-on-one and (Alex) Ovechkin came down my side… I was like ‘Holy shit, here we go!’ (Laughs)
RLD: What’s been your top hockey moment throughout your career so far? CF: Winning the Memorial Cup. That was a big highlight in my career. I played three years in Vancouver (of the WHL), and to be able to win the Cup in my last year was very special.
RLD: Growing up, did you have a favorite defenseman or player you idolized? CF: There’s obviously Lidstrom and Pronger and those guys… but to be completely honest, my favorite player growing up was Wendel Clark. My uncle was a die-hard Leafs fan and my family was just a big Wendel Clark fan. We loved watching him play when he was playing in Toronto. The ’93 series with him and (Doug) Gilmour… we were big fans back in those times.
(Last month, Cody won a number of different items from the silent auction at the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s dinner party. He won the bidding for a Tennessee Titans helmet signed by Chris Johnson and Vince Young along with an armful of signed hockey jerseys – including Nicklas Lidstrom’s. To read more about the event, hosted by Predators assistant coach Brent Peterson who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, please go here.)
RLD: At the Peterson for Parkinson’s event, you went away with a few silent auction items. Is it a hobby of yours to collect sports memorabilia? CF: I’m trying to get into it now. I like to have that kind of stuff, and hopefully have a rec room one day with all that kind of neat stuff to fill it. Obviously the cause was something that we as a team feel very a part of, and it’s important for us to give back to that. We’re in a position where we can, so why not?
RLD: What are some of your other hobbies off the ice? CF: I like to play a lot of golf… some boating. I go fishing every so often with my grandpa when he can get out. Other than that, not a whole lot… play some vids (video games) and that’s about it.
RLD: What do you like about playing in Nashville? CF: There’s so many things. It’s a great city to live in. It’s very original compared to a lot of other cities… just with the atmosphere downtown and the people are super nice. It’s different in the sense like playing in Vancouver. They can’t really go out to the mall and do whatever they want without having to worry about people coming up to them and stuff like that. Here, even if you get recognized, they just say ‘Hey good game last night’ and they keep going. They are very respectful like that around here with seeing country music people around and stuff like that. It’s almost like it’s nothing new for them to see an athlete or celebrity of some sort out ‘n about. It’s nice to play here.
RLD: Finally, what are your personal expectations for the season? CF: I want to really improve on my point totals. I want to be more of a reliable-type player for the coaches here. Play a lot more minutes and be considered one of those guys that are a go-to-guy. That’s kind of my goals for this season, just to become one of those guys that they consider me as one of the top guns… that’s what I’m striving towards.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.