Friday, October 30, 2015

Andrew Cogliano has learned to play his role

By Larry Wigge

Everyone in the NHL has his place. Everyone.

The NHL is not made up of all Wayne Gretzky's, who can score bushels of goals and assists.

You have scorers and passers. That's why the NHL is made up of four lines, each of whom has their own role.

Andrew Cogliano is one player who had to learn what his job was the hard way.

The Toronto, Ontario, native was a former first round draft choice, 25th overall, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

"The house kind of erupted," Cogliano gushed, recalling that the was selected in the first round by the Edmonton Oilers in 2005 Draft was held late because of the NHL players strike and not many players had been invited.

"I can honestly say I didn't hear my name."

You couldn't tell all those fans and Cogliano house that he couldn't skate like the wind -- similiar to the way Pavel Bure did. Or that he hadn't put up mind-dropping numbers like 93 points in 58 games and 175 points in 85 games.

The 5-9, 179-pounder center remembers all of that. Little did he know that that un-Godly-Gretzky-like numbers were for St. Mike's Junior B's.

Four seasons with Edmonton didn't make him think -- that everyone in the NHL has his place. Still, that facts were clear.

From 45 points down to 38 to 28 and 35 with the Oilers. Then ...

Cogliano was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for a second-round pick in July of 2011. Still struggling ...

"I was playing every position," he said. "I would play right wing one game, left wing the next game and center the game after that.

"I had a talk with (head coach) Bruce (Boudreau) about that this summer and before the season. He understood that was tough to do. I just wanted a role to do and one I could focus on.

"This summer he mapped it out for me in terms of giving me a role, where I needed to play well defensively, be dependable and chip in offensively."

Cogliano says, "I've matured in a sense that I know how I'm going to be successful in the league. I just want to make myself a player who a team needs."

That light that clicked on for Cogliano took advantage of all his assets -- the Bure-like speed, the numbers offensively.

Reliability. Stick-to-it-iveness. A role model any coach can count on.

Andy Hebenton -- long of the New York Rangers -- recently had his consecutive-game streak snapped by Cogliano at 630.

Their are six names ahead of Andrew on that ironman record list -- Doug Jarvis at 964, Garry Unger at 914, Steve Larmer at 884, Craig Ramsey at 776, Jay Bouwmeester at 737 and Henrik Sedin at 679.

You could say that Andrew Cogliano knows something about the subject. Cogs studied kinesiology for two years at the University of Michigan. The scientific study of human movement.

Well ...

"I'll knock on wood," Cogliano joked. "I think I've talked about it so many times that it is what it is.

"To play more than 600 games consecutively is a pretty incredible feat for me to even think about."

He says he gets some advice on the subject for his mother, Teri Cogliano, who is a physical fitness therapist.

"I've had a few neck things happen and a couple of shoulder things and an ankle sprain," Cogliano said, knocking on wood. "That's just normal."

Carmen and Teri, Andrew's parents, come from Woodbridge, Ontario. Carm came to Canada from Italy.

Andrew's favorite food is pizza. His favorite musical act is Bob Dylan? Followed by Van Morrison? This guy is still only 28, right? Dylan and Morrison have age spots older than that.

"I like old music for some reason," Cogliano said. "I never really got into rap and dance stuff. I think the more I've played hockey and the more I've filled my iPod. I just like the old-school kind of stuff."

Living the California style, Cogliano is into surfing.

Andrew Cogliano's favorite players when he was growing up -- Joe Sakic and Sergei Fedorov.

But Cogs had to erase those stars and ...

"I think sometimes he just used his speed and went helter, skelter, all over the place," said Boudreau. "Now he's thinking the game a lot more ... and I think that comes with games maturity and playing a lot of games."

Former Ducks defenseman once said of Cogliano and his toughness in playing 600 consecutive games:

"People see that he's a little guy. But I played with him for a few years in Edmonton and now here. I've seen him battle through a lot of things that a lot of guys can use as an excuse to not play. He's a tough little bugger.

"His hockey socks are probably pretty wet at the end of every game. He gets knocked around out there but he keeps getting up."

Like the energizer bunny, Andrew Cogliano keeps going and going.

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