Glass coming into his own with Predators
Winnipegger bringing more mature approach to game
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NASHVILLE — Nashville Predators general manager David Poile hadn’t finished telling Cody Glass the news he’d long been waiting for when a wave of emotion swept over the young centreman.
By the time Poile got to the point, that Glass had made the Predators following a strong training camp, the 23-year-old Winnipeg native had buried his face in hands, wiping away tears. Glass, who was acquired by Nashville in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights in July 2021, had failed to stick with the team that fall, spending much of his first year in the Predators organization with their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee.
Given the many hurdles he had faced in his first few years as a professional hockey player, the feelings that came from knowing he’d made his way back to the NHL were simply too overwhelming to hide.
“Being in the AHL last year, coming back from knee surgery, the adversity of being a high draft pick, all those things just kind of added up to the emotions of being in that meeting and earning a roster spot,” Glass told the Free Press Tuesday morning, ahead of the Predators game against the Jets at Bridgestone Arena. “It meant a lot to me. Obviously, there were cameras in there and I didn’t want to cry, but it was one of those things where it just kind of came out and the emotions were letting through.”
Fast-forward to today and Glass is not only on the club, but he’s also centring the top line, alongside wingers Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene. In 36 games this year, he has five goals and 11 assists for 16 points and is a key part of the team’s second power-play unit.
It’s been a long journey for Glass. He started his NHL career with the Golden Knights, who selected him with the sixth overall pick in 2017, making him the franchise’s first-ever draft selection.
Things couldn’t have started much better; after spending a couple more years with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, Glass made his debut with the Golden Knights on Oct. 2, 2019, scoring his first NHL goal on his first shot attempt. He played 39 games that year, accounting for a good chunk of his combined 111 games, chipping in five goals and seven assists.
Life would take a sudden turn from there. Glass battled through several ailments his rookie season, none worse than the knee injury that required surgery to repair, ultimately ending his season and starting a long road to recovery.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. That only made his rehab more difficult and, with the postponement of the NHL for a brief while, his wait to return to the ice that much longer.
By the summer of 2021 he was gone, traded to Nashville in exchange for fellow Winnipegger Nolan Patrick. The narrative coming out of the deal was that Glass would benefit from a change of scenery.
“I wouldn’t say it was my words. I wanted it to work there,” Glass said. “It’s just one of those things where it didn’t and it sucks, but I get a different opportunity with Nashville and I’m grateful to be here. I was grateful for my time in Vegas, and I can’t say a bad thing about my time there.”
In his first season with the Predators, Glass lasted just two games before being re-assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals. He was sent to the AHL to regain his confidence, which he did, finishing the year as the club’s leading scorer, with 62 points (14G, 48A) in 66 games.
He put in solid summer in preparation for this season, which he told reporters during training camp it was a “make-or-break” year for him, adding he felt he was running of chances. Glass has made the most of this year, with the notable differences in him as a player and person not lost on head coach John Hynes.
“There’s an assertiveness to his game, playing a style of game that gives him a chance to use his skillset. He’s a real good skating, playmaking centreman,” Hynes said. “He’s playing quite a few minutes and against tough matchups. It’s nice to see him come in and build into the role he’s in and he’s making an impact on our team.”
Hynes was in the room when Poile delivered the news Glass had made the team and watched his emotional response. Asked if the team felt any responsibility to help Glass get through some of the mental hurdles he had faced since arriving in Nashville, the Predators coach said the team worked with him to get to a point where he was an everyday player in the NHL.
“He wasn’t physically or mentally ready to play in the NHL. We know the reason why we acquired him and why we believe in him is you can see what you’re starting to see now,” Hynes said. “It’s the hardest league in the world. Some of these guys are physical specimens but there’s the pressure to play, the emotional parts. It can be a lonely league and that’s something players have to adjust to.”
Glass said it wasn’t until he got to Nashville that he started to really focus in on the mental side of the game. He’s worked with Vickie Woosley, who is the Predators mental skills coach, to help ease the pressure he’s put on himself from being a high draft pick and having a slower start to his NHL than he envisioned for himself.
“I was just a kid and I never really thought of the mental side of hockey,” Glass said. “I reached out when I got here and started to talk to someone, and I started to get more comfortable with how it is. Just getting into that side of it really helped me and just kind of eased my mind by getting a little bit of that baggage off my shoulders.”
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.