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Gazette Premium Content Future CC player turns heads at NHL camp

DAMIAN CRISTODERO Updated: July 10, 2012 at 12:00 am

BRANDON, Fla. • As befitting a former NHL player who has seen it all, Brian Bradley, watching from a balcony Saturday at the Ice Sports Forum, hardly flinched when the Lightning prospect roofed a goal.

He was similarly stoic several seconds later when the same prospect stole a puck and scored again.

As a parent, though, Bradley could not have been prouder, because the prospect was his son, Cody, who continued to distinguish himself at Tampa Bay’s development camp.

“It’s great,” said Brian, who played for the Lightning from 1992-97, was the team’s first legiti­mate star and is the organization’s director of youth hockey. “Any time you wear the pros’ colors, it’s a good experience.”

Cody, 18, was not at the camp because of his father, said Al Murray, Tampa Bay’s director of amateur scouting.

A center like his father, Cody last season played for Dubuque of the junior United States league and next season will play on scholarship for Colorado College.

He was on the Lightning’s June draft list. When not selected, he was invited to camp with a phone call from general manager Steve Yzerman, something Cody called “a pretty big deal.”

“We evaluated Cody as every other player is evaluated,” Murray said. “We didn’t even talk to Brian prior to the draft.”

Cody, 5 feet 10, 163 pounds and a lifelong Lightning fan, made the most of his time at the five-day camp that wrapped up Saturday. In six three-on-three games, he had three goals, four points and nine shots on goal.

“He’s skates well, seems pretty smart and makes good plays,” player development coordinator Steve Thomas said. “He certainly didn’t look out of place.”

“He’s skilled,” assistant general manager Julien BriseBois said. “He’s responsible. He competes.”

Cody was too young to recall his father as a player — he wasn’t born when Brian in 1992-93 was the Lightning’s first 40-goal scorer — but he knows Brian’s 13-year career was ended by a concussion.

That was in even sharper focus when Cody missed more than three months last season with a concussion.

It occurred during January’s USHL All-Star Game when Cody’s head smacked the boards after a hit. He played only four more games, in April in the playoffs.

Given Brian’s history, it would be understandable if the injury, which Cody said was “a little bit more serious than I thought,” caused concern about Cody’s career path. But neither he nor his father seemed worried.

“Stuff like that happens,” Brian said. “You just have to overcome it and work hard and battle through it.”

“His most important advice,” Cody said of his father, “was I’m young and not to pressure myself to get back on the ice right away. Make sure it was fully healed before I was ready to go. In the long run, I found out I was going to be fine.

“It’s not really in my head whether a concussion will end my career or not. I just keep playing, hope for the best and work hard every game.”

Like he did during Saturday’s three-on-threes, in which he showed good hands with his top-shelf goal, good anticipation with the steal that led to his second goal and good grit with a goal off a scramble in front of the net.

“He can snipe,” Bradley said. “He needs to shoot more, like anybody, but he can put it in the net.”

Spoken like a proud father.

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