by Alec Lessner | AHL On The Beat

When Cody Franson departed British Columbia for Des Moines, he temporarily left his family and most of his physical possessions behind.

One thing Franson made sure to bring was an item that contained the better part of a decade of preparation for his first professional coaching job.

“Later in my playing career, I started a notepad with observations about coaching,” said Franson. “I was lucky to play for really good coaches.”

Franson called upon some of those coaches when offered an assistant coaching position with the Iowa Wild.

“I’m really fortunate to have good relationships with some guys that I played for, Barry Trotz being one of them,” said Franson, who joined Iowa’s coaching staff on Dec. 28. “He was an unbelievable coach to have as my first NHL coach. Barry had that balance of being demanding on the ice but an unbelievable human off the ice, someone who really cared about you as a person and your family. When I took this job on, he was a person who I called for advice on how to approach it and how to do it right from the start.”

Dan Bylsma, who currently serves as the head coach of the Coachella Valley Firebirds, was Franson’s coach when he played for the Buffalo Sabres during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. Franson credits Bylsma for providing him with a road map for how to navigate different challenges.

“Our group (in Buffalo) was a mix that was probably on the more interesting side for a coach to approach,” said Franson. “I thought Dan did a great job with it and handled it really well. I have a decent amount of stuff in my notepad from how Dan handled certain situations, whether we changed philosophy or structure as the seasons went on.”

Franson says that over-thinking coaching decisions may have caused him unnecessary stress over a playing career that spanned 550 NHL games and 283 AHL games.

“I remember how I thought about things as simple as the lineup,” said Franson. “You’d walk into the room and see the lineup and maybe your name has dropped a line or down a pairing. You sit there all day and think about why you dropped.”

He says that as his own children grow and play hockey, he plans to discourage them from worrying about similar things.

“Sometimes it might be nothing,” said Franson. “Maybe they liked you in the last game and wanted to pair you with someone else. The one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t know what’s going on behind the coaches’ door so don’t try to figure it out. Worry about what you can control and approach each day that way.”

Since joining the Wild, Franson has leaned on resources he has inside Iowa’s locker room in the form of head coach Brett McLean and assistant Ben Simon, who both have extensive AHL playing and coaching experience.

“I’m fortunate with Mac and Benny,” said Franson. “They’ve taken me under their wing and tried to pass on their words of wisdom and things they’ve learned along the way.”

Franson says revisiting his notes has been a rewarding experience, but that he is far from done when it comes to building his personal resource.

“I think for the most part, the notepad’s held true. I’ve added things along the way that I’ve learned from the short time I’ve been here, and I plan to keep building on it.”


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