ROCKFORD, Ill. – The Rockford IceHogs, proud American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL), announced today that defenseman Cody Franson is the winner of the team’s Most Valuable Player award for the 2021 season.
Franson, 33, picked up his second IceHogs Best Defenseman award yesterday after receiving the honor during the 2017-18 season and placed second among IceHogs skaters and tied for 13th among AHL blueliners this season with 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) and led the team with nine power-play points (one goal, eight assists) and 67 shots.
“It’s pretty special,” Franson said while reflecting on his season. “It’s a really young group and a great group of guys. It’s been a lot of fun and it’s been an interesting year with how far we’ve come as a group. At the start, we were starting from the ground up. We had to learn, it seemed like, almost everything brand new. To see how far these guys have come is a pretty special feeling as a player and as a guy trying the help them along. It’s a pretty good feeling.”
In addition to his point production, the Sicamous, British Columbia, native was counted on as a veteran leader on the ice, on the bench, and in the locker room, appearing in the second-most games for an IceHogs defenseman this season and was one of only seven skaters to dress in 26 or more games during the team’s 32-game schedule. He paced all IceHogs skaters with an average ice time of 23:07 per game.
“He’s like a third coach out there,” added IceHogs Head Coach Derek King. “He settles things down, especially with our young defensemen. He talks to the guys a lot. He’s a huge asset for us as an organization and as a staff also.” He becomes the first IceHogs AHL defenseman to capture both the team’s Best Defenseman and MVP award in the same season and the first player in franchise history to do so since Jeff DaCosta (UHL, 2000-01).
IceHogs Most Valuable Players
1999-00 J.F. Rivard and Mike Figliomeni
2000-01 J.F. Rivard and Nick Checco
2001-02 Jeff DaCosta
2002-03 Alex Alexeev and Matt Loen
2003-04 Dave Paradise and Ronnie Vogel
2004-05 J.F. Dufour and J.C. Ruid
2005-06 Greg Barber and Preston Mizzi
2006-07 Frederic Cloutier and Preston Mizzi
2007-08 Martin St. Pierre
2008-09 Tim Brent
2009-10 Mark Cullen
2010-11 Jeff Taffe
2011-12 Carter Hutton
2012-13 Brandon Pirri and Martin St. Pierre
2013-14 Jeremy Morin
2014-15 Michael Leighton
2015-16 Michael Leighton
2016-17 Brandon Mashinter
2017-18 Tyler Sikura
2018-19 Jacob Nilsson
2019-20 Brandon Hagel
2020-21 Cody Franson