25 April, 2014

Let the Roaming of a Fierce Gang (Green) on Washington's Streets Commence

Just how important was Mike Green’s signing this week? Nearly as important as Alexander Ovechkin’s back in January.
Green isn’t just the Capitals’ no. 1 gun from the point — the slick-passing, even slicker skating, indispensable-in-the-new NHL engine from the back end.¬†He’s their Mohawked Mojo, their Titan of ‘Tude, the galvazer of Gang Green. He is supremely skilled swagger on skates. He represents something this organization has never had: rock star star hockey player.
And that’s a very good thing.
You in the Grandpas of Capsdom might suggest that the Wild Thing, Al Iafrate, was such a figure 15 years ago.¬†Iafrate’s game was special, but it was highly specialized in its impact — a really big (triple digit) slapshot, and some really big hits on the back end. And like Green he could skate like the wind. But he¬†wasn’t quite the passer that Green is. He could deliver big hits for sure, and gracious he was fun to watch, but he was more enigma than star. Big Al never really offered the promise of being a 30-minuter-a-gamer who could, as Green showed in the Capitals’ first post-lockout playoff game this past April, outshine even the greatest hockey player in the world.
To those for whom Mike Green’s $5-million-plus pricetag seems too hefty, I ask this: you either agree or disagree that Mike Green, today, is a peer-in-ability-and-impact with Sergei Gonchar, the Penguins’ $5 million dollar man. Which is it? I happen to think he is, and that his upside, at both ends, is appreciably higher than Gonchar’s. And hypothetically, were Gonchar a free agent this summer, he’d command, on either the open or closed market, a salary likely higher than what Green got.
Also, what are the odds that in three or four years’ time¬†this deal looks inflated and wasteful? Not real strong, methinks. In fact, seeing as how Green will be on the prognosticating minds of many hockey followers for Norris Trophy candidacy beginning in about three months’ time, the odds are better that¬†as with his teammate Ovechkin, the deal looks fair and a good value before the ink is dry on it. Lastly, if you agree with George McPhee that the post-lockout NHL places a premium on reliable and creative puck-moving blueliners, how do you evaluate Green’s skillset in that regard?
Or put another way: can you imagine anyone else in the Capitals’ organization playing the role of fair substitute for Green’s game?
But there is also this consideration, which while somewhat intangible I think nonetheless played a direct and powerful impact on the Caps’ negotiations with Green: aside from his numbers, aside from his potential, aside from his present value in today’s NHL, Mike Green is a marvel of an entertaining hockey player to watch perform. He is dynamic with his instincts, his footwork, his howitzer of a point shot; he is a breed of blueliner we haven’t seen in these parts . . . perhaps ever.
He is two parts Steve Austin (but a whole lot less nerdy), one part Steve McQueen.
Recall his third-period magic in that game 1 against the Flyers this spring, when the Flyers held what shoud have been a lock-down, third period lead. Green took over that third period. And it was no fluke — we’d seen glimpses of that kind of command performance in the regular season as well, particularly after Bruce Boudreau came in. They just never had the stage that that postseason night did. It was a performance that led Flyers’ Coach John Stevens to single out Green for special coverage attention thereafter.
Now consider this: he’s certain to get better. It isn’t hyperbole, given the gusto of his game, to imagine a post-Nicklas Lidstrom NHL being Green’s to preside over when it comes to heavy hardware for the league’s reargaurds. He’ll have superb company (Phaneuf, Campbell, two or three names from the ’08 draft as well, perhaps), but he’ll enter 2008-09 as a First-Team All Star candidate. The Sporting News this year named Green to its All Star team, where he joined Ovechkin.
Mike Green occasioned Gang Green in Verizon Center this past season. His puck rushes over the next four seasons in Washington will at times generate a mass rising in the home seats. That kind of response from and relationship with fans is a rarity in hockey — in sports in general. From management’s perspective, that’s no small part of his value.
If Washington is going to rise to some stature¬†of a hockey town in a way it never did in the Capitals’ first 30 years of existence, Mike Green will play an outsized role as architect.


  1. thag wrote:

    Green SERIOUSLY needs to work on his defense.

    3 July, 2008 at 7:26 am | Permalink
  2. Emmie wrote:

    Great story as usual, love the signing of Green and although I was a little worried about the price. I think you’re right about in a few years it looking like pennies.
    Lets go Caps!

    3 July, 2008 at 7:47 am | Permalink
  3. doughless wrote:

    you are like a pendulum swinging back and forth. I agree with Thag: Green needs to work on defense (standing BEHIND the net as a game winner is scored). I would also say he needs to work on his passing. i recall many errant passes this past season, a couple during the playoff series in particular, that ended up on the stick of a player from the opposing team.
    I love Green and the entertainment value he brings (although less concerned about entertainment value than winning hockey value). He certainly is a talented guy that the Caps are lucky to have. But lets be a little more realistic about what he brings in terms of his d-man role and overall game. I would say there is room for improvement all both those fronts.

    3 July, 2008 at 10:06 am | Permalink
  4. b.orr4 wrote:

    Now, don’t jump on me for this, but as someone who grew up watching Booby Orr in person (as my screen name will attest), Green has a lot of Bobby in him. Don’t get me wrong, Mike will never come close to Orr in talent, but he possesses a lot of the same skill sets. Orr was a marvelous stick handler who had a howitzer of a slap shot, two areas that Green excels in. But what really reminds me of Orr is Green’s skating ability. Bobby had this incredible ability to start the rush behind his net, weave through traffic (and circle back if he had to), pick up steam through the neutral zone while finding a fifth and sixth gear, split the D, get off the shot and still be the first guy back on defense. That’s a god-given ability not many players in this league possess, yet Mike is able to do it several times a game. And for those who complain about Green’s defense, that was the same knock on Orr early in his career. Yet as he matured and learned to pick his spots, he became an excellent defender. I have little doubt that Green will do the same. The one area where Green isn’t even close to Orr is in passing ability,but then again, Orr had over 100 assist one year. Again, Green’s not the next Boobby Orr, nobody is, but he’s the closest we’ve probably ever seen in DC. And for those of you who think my comparison is lunancy, none other than Phil Esposito (who knows a thing or two about Orr) said the exact same thing.

    3 July, 2008 at 10:07 am | Permalink
  5. b.orr4 wrote:

    That’s Bobby, not Booby. Need more coffee.

    3 July, 2008 at 10:09 am | Permalink
  6. b.orr4, Green’s first third-period tally against the Flyers in Game 1 offered me an eery reminder of you-know-who’s famous flight. It was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the first replay of it. I’m in total agreement with you — there’s nothing profane about recognizing that certain aspects of Green’s game bear a resemblance to no. 4′s.
    And these critics who take serious issue with the 22-year-old’s defensive play remind me of men who’d criticize Eva Longoria’s B cups. Green’s hardly the defender the 22-year-old Gonchar was. (Reekie performed two-men’s work in that regard. And you’ll notice his head coach isn’t exactly reluctant to stick him on the ice late in a tight game.)
    And by the way, if Green ever gets just a decent — merely a decent — sheet of ice to skate on 40 nights a year, there may be even more comparisons with you know who.

    3 July, 2008 at 10:29 am | Permalink
  7. doughless wrote:

    we have plenty of forwards. d is lacking. MG was +6 last season in large part because he is often out there with Ovie. be honest with yourself. why is it bad to say he needs to up his D-game?? hell, that can be said for all our D-men. he is going to be making $5.25M per year to play D. either way, i’ll will be at the Phone Booth yelling my head off as Greenie bombs away!!!

    3 July, 2008 at 10:46 am | Permalink
  8. doughless wrote:

    by the way, i like b cups. ;)

    3 July, 2008 at 10:53 am | Permalink
  9. doughless, my concern with the criticism is that in substance and tone it sounds dismissive of the fact that he’s 22 — a hockey child — and that a wide swath of Caps’ fans’ track record with respect to sizing up Dmen (HOFer Larry Murphy comes immediately to mind) is, to put it mildly, suspect.
    I suspect in some ways this is all related to Rob Langway’s brilliant career in the formative years of this organization. It’s as if any point-producing blueliner here who also isn’t an iron-clad shut-downer like Rod is belittled. I find it fantastically simple-minded.

    3 July, 2008 at 11:03 am | Permalink
  10. doughless wrote:

    agreed. but the same can be said for folks heaping it on related to MG’s overall game, to date. when it gets down to it, i guess my beef is that I feel the Caps are missing a solid blueliner. MG only has upside. I just want the Caps to continue to move forward after last season, not slide backwards (again).

    3 July, 2008 at 11:11 am | Permalink
  11. I guess I would next ask, if Paul Coffey can win a Norris, why can’t Mike Green? And doughless, for you and me, Green’s rising to a Coffey-kind-of-game, complete with a Norris or two award, would be cause for no small celebration. But I swear, in this town, for no small number of puck ninnies, that wouldn’t be good enough.

    3 July, 2008 at 11:18 am | Permalink
  12. b.orr4 wrote:

    Funny you should mention Rod Langway. A lot of people forget that, like Green, he didn’t play his first NHL game until he was 21 years old and didn’t play a full season until he was 22. When he was traded in 1982 at the age of 26 to the Caps, he was considered a good player but hardly great. Of course, the rest is history. As everybody knows, defensemen take longer to mature. The fact that Green is this good, this early can only be a harbinger of great things to come. So instead of bitching about his defense, we should be revelling in the fact that we have one of the most dynamic young players in the game today.

    3 July, 2008 at 12:19 pm | Permalink
  13. doughless wrote:

    hyperbole aside, b.orr4; if there was no bitchin allowed, would there be any need to have this blog???? sure would be no fun.

    3 July, 2008 at 12:31 pm | Permalink
  14. b.orr4 wrote:

    You’ve got a point, Doughless.

    3 July, 2008 at 12:39 pm | Permalink
  15. pig pile wrote:

    agree with doughless’s comment earlier on the need for a “solid blueliner”, I would probably go one step further and state that their won’t be a Cup until we do. I truly believe (very humbly i might add) that this Caps mgmt is laying a foundation for this team in making sure OV and Greenie are signed long term. I think it’s a great msg to send to the rest of the guys on this team that if you step it up, you will be rewarded with a fair long term deal. Having a Norris-worthy puckhandler (generating offense—-ie Greenie) along with another Norris-worthy stand up Blueliner signed long term should be the minimum necessary to have this team seriously considered for post-season honors.

    3 July, 2008 at 1:56 pm | Permalink
  16. pig pile wrote:

    sorry for the quick post after i just posted, but; how’s this for a power play? OV, Semin, and Feds…to go along with Greenie and…currently trade bait in Tampa…Dan Boyle!!!

    3 July, 2008 at 2:39 pm | Permalink
  17. Francisco wrote:

    i really like the signing of green who i think is a key anchor on this team but i would like to hear from those of you out there for a more informed assessment of his ability to hit and take a hit. it seems to me toward the end of the season and even in the playoffs that green on more than one occasion coughed up the puck in our end when under intense pressure of an incoming hit in the corner. i don;t want to sound too critical but at times he seemed to avoid some of the more physical play in the corners that is so important during the playoffs. how do you all rate him in this area?

    3 July, 2008 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  18. zelda wrote:

    I agree that Green got a deal that will seem like a bargain very soon. Gonchar wasn’t as good as he is now when he was a Cap, and I agree that Green is almost as good as Gonchar now (some mental mistakes now and then on Green’s part, but he’s learning from them.)
    P&B, have you heard from the Caps about the ice situation at the Phone Booth and what is being done to remedy the apparent problem(s)?

    3 July, 2008 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
  19. pepper wrote:

    I’m a Grandpa of Capsdom?! Damn, that’s harsh fellas.
    I remember getting so amped up to see those early Caps-only skills competitions, just to witness Big Al’s three digit missiles.

    3 July, 2008 at 6:18 pm | Permalink
  20. pig pile wrote:

    I’m right there with you pepper…i think he drove his motorcycle faster than his slapper though!!

    3 July, 2008 at 7:34 pm | Permalink
  21. TD wrote:

    This must be the oddest thread ever, Mike Green great talent, huge potential. Was compared to Bobby Orr (we can only hope) and Al Iafrate (the bare minimum).
    With luck somewhere in between, closer to Orr.

    3 July, 2008 at 9:44 pm | Permalink
  22. 5 July, 2008 at 8:45 pm | Permalink