What Has Happened to the Former Capitals Norris Trophy Candidate Defenseman?
Mike Green used to be considered a hot commodity defenseman in the NHL from 2007-2010. The 28-year old Calgary, AB native was fun to watch and he thrived playing under Bruce Boudreau’s fire-wagon hockey near the beginning of his NHL career.
Green played in 225 regular season games between the 2007-2008 and 2009-2010 seasons. In those 225 games in the three-season span, he amassed 68 goals and 205 points. 205 points in 225 games are statistics that are pretty much unheard of for an NHL defenseman today. So what has happened since those three marvelous seasons for Mike Green? What has made him such an enigma for the Washington Capitals today? Who or what is to blame for his rapid decline?
The game above was one Green’s worst games he has ever played in his Capitals career. It was in mid-December against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Green could have set up a cot inside the Capitals penalty box.
Mike Green has not played a full NHL regular season since the 2007-2008 season. He has had numerous injuries that have included concussions, groin problems, and other various bumps and bruises.
Here are some videos to show the abuse Mike Green has taken:
Struggles Under Hunter and Oates:
Green never found any kind of confidence under the directions of Dale Hunter and Adam Oates. He did not play many games under Dale Hunter as he was injured for most of the 2011-2012 season. When Green did play, he was not encouraged to bring the puck up the ice and skate around in the offensive zone.
The same struggles occurred under Adam Oates too. Despite Green’s struggles in recent seasons, he led all Capitals blueliners in 2013-2014 with 38 points. Green was still hindered by Adam Oates’ scheme and was prevented from pushing the play up the ice. Oates removed Green off the top powerplay unit during the regular season too.
The interesting note from Green’s recent season with the Washington Capitals is that he led all Capitals skaters in puck-possession, or “Fenwick-For Percentage.” This writer is not an expert on Fenwick or Corsi numbers, so bear with him. Green’s puck-possession (FF%) rating was at 51% and he was the only Capitals skater to crack 50%. His “Corsi-For Percentage,” which measures puck-possession in terms of shooting attempts, was also solid as he was rated at 51.7% which again led the Capitals.
The Capitals have had a hard time filling out their defensive core for the past several seasons. This did not bode well for Mike Green as he needed someone who can play top minutes with him. Green needed a serviceable defensive defenseman who will let him cheat up into the play so he can keep play alive in the offensive zone.
Here are some names who the Capitals have attempted to pair with Mike Green during his Capitals career:
John Erskine, Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt, Karl Alzner, Roman Hamrlik, Jeff Schultz, Shaone Morrisonn
Many of these defensive combinations were attempted and most of them failed. Most of these guys that became paired with Mike Green could be classified as the following: young AHL level talent, veteran NHL players who were near the tail-end of their careers, or veteran guys who cannot crack an NHL level roster now.
Most of the names listed above did not give Mike Green the durable defensive presence and leadership that he needed. Green has not been able to build any kind of chemistry with one individual for a long period of time. He has not had that defensive partner that he has been able to grow with as he has entered the prime of his career.
Can “Game-Over Green” Be Saved?
With the Capitals general manager and head coach search in full swing, Mike Green’s future with the Capitals is a bit unknown, much like several other Capitals players.
After this season concludes, Mike Green will have one year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of just over $6 million dollars. He will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2014-2015 season concludes. Everyone wonders what his next contract could be worth. It could all be dependent on how well he performs next season in the final year of his deal.
Mike Green’s performance next season will depend a lot on what coach the Capitals decide to hire. To get the best and exciting Mike Green, the Capitals are better off to hire someone who plays an up-tempo style of hockey. The Capitals need to let Mike Green loose and out of the cannon to utilize his talent the most.
The Capitals need to somehow acquire a top-four defensive defenseman who can grow chemistry with Mike Green. Mike Green’s problem is that he has had no one talented enough to work with his game. Is this his fault? Is it his fault the Capitals have not found a quality defensive linemate to play with?
This writer feels that Mike Green is a player who can be saved. In order for him to be saved, he needs a competent coach and a quality defensive partner who can help him gain confidence. If there is a confident Mike Green on the ice, there is a dominant performer who can excel in all areas of the rink.
Mike Green is a defender who can supply lots of “O from the D” if he is let loose. He has a big shot and lots of skill which has been seen in years past. This writer feels that he is unfairly criticized and is not the main cause for the Capitals issues. Green is still a big part of the Washington Capitals and had a big part of their success a few seasons ago. He needs the right coach who can bring him out of his shell and he needs the right defensive partner who can let him play like a loose cannon on the ice. If Mike Green receives those two things in the near future, he will have a resurgence in his NHL career.
Thanks for tuning in!
I am from Virginia. I am covering the Washington Capitals for The Hockey Writers. I love to write and I am a huge sports fanatic – especially hockey. Follow me on Twitter: @Canucksfin56