If you’ve ever met New Jersey Devils defenseman Andy Greene before you’d know that he’s not the loudest guy in a room, ever. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t an effective leader and respected by his teammates. “He’s a calming influence all over the ice. He’s on the penalty kill for us every night. Certainly, when he speaks up in the room, guys listen,” Devils’ forward Adam Henrique explained to The Hockey Writers when questioned about Greene’s first season with the C on his jersey in New Jersey. “He commands that attention in here and even though he’s a soft-spoken guy I don’t think he gets enough credit for how much he means to this team — it doesn’t get talked about enough. I also think that’s one of the things that makes him who he is, why he’s the leader in here and why he’s our captain.”
Greene has been with the Devils since 2006-07 when he was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Miami University, and has learned from former captains Patrik Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner, Zach Parise and Bryce Salvador; and he had former New Jersey captain and Hall-of-Famer Scott Stevens as a coach for a few seasons, so it’s obvious he has learned from a wide-range of respected NHL players along the way.
“A guy of his stature, those are the guys that you really watch away from the rink — the professional way he goes about his career. Those are all reasons why he’s the captain, he’s a great guy,” Henrique went on to say. “He’s been great. He certainly didn’t change anything about himself, which I think is important; he’s a guy back there who is so consistent, so solid in his game. He’s the cornerstone to our defensive corps obviously. He’s been here for a long time now and I think the young guys back there can certainly learn from him.”
Not one of the so-called experts (like the one above) out there expected New Jersey to do well this season, let alone contend for a playoff spot, so THW caught up with Andy Greene following a recent Devils practice to find out what this season has been like, his first as the team’s captain, how the evolution of his defense partner has come about and what it was like being a small part of the Martin Brodeur jersey retirement night.
The Hockey Writers: You are 58 games into your first season as captain of the Devils, how do you think things have gone so far?
Andy Greene: It’s been pretty good; obviously the team is doing well and that makes things a little easier for me to adjust to it. But it’s been going real well.
THW: There were a lot of changes here this offseason: front office, coaching staff and players; did any of that make the transition of becoming captain easier, because everything was being refreshed?
AG: A little bit, yeah. Like you said with all the changes, getting a feel for them and how they operate; how the relationships evolve. It’s been good, and a good learning experience; it’s only going to continue to get better.
THW: Other than Patrik Elias, who’s currently on IR, you’re the longest-tenured Devil; what have things been like with Lou Lamoreillo not here anymore?
AG: Yeah, things are different obviously. Everyone has their own style, has their own idiosyncrocies and stuff like that, but it’s been good. It’s been something a little different, but change is good.
THW: What has changed over the past year or so in your D-partner Adam Larsson that has made him such a reliable first pair defenseman?
AG: I think he’s just been playing real good hockey obviously; the experience is coming and he’s still a pretty young guy. Learning how to play defense in this league is not easy and more time on the ice, more reps…the more experience you get, the more comfortable you’ll get. That’s been a key for him and he doesn’t overthink things now — he just goes out there and plays. He knows what type of defenseman he is, he has confidence in himself and he should — he’s been playing real well.
THW: Was there a general time period where you noticed that change in him?
AG: It’s been a little bit of an evolution. Last year he took a lot of big steps and at the beginning of the (last) year he was in and out a little bit. He came back and was playing real well and then he got sick. Then he came back and I think right after Christmas he really took off. I think even before that he was playing real well, but like I said he got sick. But after that he’s been playing real well, very steady and as I mentioned, playing with confidence.
— NJD Equipment Staff (@NJDSk8Guy) February 8, 2016
THW: A little over a week ago Martin Brodeur had his jersey retired here, what was that experience like and what are your memories of being teammates with Marty?
AG: It was an awesome night. I thought the team and the organization did a great job. It was really a nice personal ceremony and they showed how much he really meant to this organization and even the state of New Jersey. I was fortunate enough to be a part of his career here at the end, for a few seasons, he was a lot of fun (to be around) and I got to learn a lot of great things from him — how to be a pro, how to come to the rink every day and good things like that.
Dan Rice can be reached via Twitter: @DRdiabloTHW or via Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.