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McCormick hands-down choice for captain. (National News).


Yes, that's still the same Cody McCormick that's been starring for the Belleville Bulls this season.

Yes, the same McCormick who was primarily utilized as a third-line or fourth-Line checker during his first three seasons with the Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League.

In his first three years in Belleville, McCormick, a Chippewa, played in 174 games and earned 57 points (20 goals, 37 assists).

As for this season, McCormick became an offensive force. He scored a team-high 36 goals, despite missing seven regular season contests.

McCormick finished second in team scoring with 69 points, behind only linemate Matthew Stajan, who earned 94 points.

He accomplished all this without changing his feisty ways; he led the Bulls with 166 penalty minutes.

McCormick was hoping to continue leading Belleville in the post-season. The BuDs, who posted a 33-27-6-2 regulars season mark, were scheduled to begin their best-of-seven, opening playoff round against the St. Michael's Majors of Toronto on March 23.

Just how valuable Cody McCormick is to the Bulls is evident on the front of his shirt. He wears the 'C', signifying the team captaincy.

Belleville coach Jim Hulton said the club's players were allowed to pick their own captain during training camp this season. And McCormick, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound right winger who was born in Mount Brydges, Ont., was the hands-down pick.

"It was an unanimous vote," Hulton said. "And there was no way the coaches or management was going to change that."

Just by being the Bulls' captain, McCormick is somewhat of a rarity. The only other Native player that he could name as being a team captain was George Armstrong, who was one of the greatest players ever to suit up for the National Hockey League's Toronto Maple Leafs.

McCormick is also believed to be the first Native player to captain a club in the OHL since Armstrong's nephew, Date McCourt, had that honor with the Hamilton Fincups in the 1970s before being selected first overall in the NHL draft by the Detroit Red Wings.

"It's a great honor," McCormick said of his 'C'. "I wear it with a lot of pride."

McCormick had never even been an assistant captain before with the Bulls. But Hulton said it shouldn't be a surprise to see who is leading the Belleville side now.

"Internally, we knew Cody would be the leader of this team one day," he said. "But I'm not sure we ever imagined Cody being a 30-35 goal-scorer in this league."

Hulton has pretty much only good things to say about McCormick.

"Cody gives you an honest effort each and every game," he added. "And he does all the little things well. He makes sure the puck gets out of his zone. And conversely, he gets the puck into the other teams zone."

Others had also seen McCormick's potential. He was drafted in the fifth round, 144th over-all, by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2001 NHL entry draft.

McCormick, who turns 20 on April 18, has yet to sign a pro contract. The Avalanche has until June 1 to ink him to a deal or he will become eligible to be chosen again in this year's NHL draft in late June.

McCormick is nor keen to think about negotiations with the Avalanche until his season with the Bulls is complete.

"Obviously, I would like to play pro," he said. "And if Colorado doesn't want me, hopefully another team would."
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Title Annotation:Belleville Bulls
Author:Laskaris, Sam
Publication:Wind Speaker
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Apr 1, 2003
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