Mike Green, the newly re-signed Washington Capitals defenseman, met the press Monday to talk about his brand spanking new three-year, $18.25 million contract extension. Not surprisingly, Green expressed his strong desire to stay in Washington with the organization he grew up in and knows so well. He also insisted he was finally and completely healthy, ready to resume the offensive prowess that led him to two consecutive 70-point seasons not too long ago.
Asked point-blank if he’s capable of those lofty goals, Green replied, “A hundred percent, and it’ll be next year.”
Strong words from a player that has only dressed for 82 games the last two seasons combined.
Green insisted that he was healthy, but admitted it took longer than he ever expected to feel that way.
“I’ll be honest with you, I really didn’t feel as though I was back to myself until the middle of the playoffs,” he admitted Monday. “Not as far as the mental game, just my injury from surgery. Not that it was bothering me to the extent that I couldn’t play my game, but physically it just took that long for the injury to heal, and then I was able to play my game again. It was a little too late, but I’m 100 percent now and ready for next season.”
The defenseman, who owns a 30-plus goal season to his credit, is ready to get back on the ice and prove his worth, and he’s excited about playing for new coach Adam Oates. Green was respectful of the now-departed Dale Hunter and his ultra-conservative approach, but was very clear that he believes Oates’ style suits his style of play much better.
“What Dale expected was a kind of grind chip in chip out kind of game,” Green said. “I respect him as a coach and played that way and played hard for him but I also at the same time I’m excited that Adam is here. Actually very excited. From what I’ve heard, his style fits my style of play and the other guys, and hopefully there is a balance between Bruce Boudreau and Dale, and hopefully Adam is the guy.”
It’s no secret that Green possesses a terrific offensive game. He is a supreme puck-moving defenseman and owns a wicked shot from the point. But he has to be able to stay on the ice, something that the Caps haven’t been able to take for granted in two seasons. But he logged major minutes during the playoffs and seemed to be getting stronger with every game.
“I think they know what I’m capable of,” Green said on Monday’s conference call with reporters. “It was unfortunate the last couple years that I’ve suffered from injuries. But I believe that I’m over them now. I think I got them all out of my system. I think that as happy as I am, that they’re happy and they know that I’m committed to the hockey team and doing the right things to be the best that I can. It’s win-win for everybody.”
So, does the two-time Norris Trophy candidate feel he’s got something to prove this upcoming season?
“I think that personally and for my own mental state that I get back to [his previous production] and I almost prove to myself that I can do it,” he said. “It’s been unfortunate over the last two years. I’ve worked hard to want to maintain that, and I’ve ran into some injuries that have caused a little bit of a fall-back in that department. I know that I’m able to do it.
“It’s just a matter of me staying healthy and going and doing it.”
No truer words have been spoken.
Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Redskins coverage on Twitter @CapitalsDSP.