Capitals Alumni Profile: Mike Green

mike-green

Younger and newer Caps fans are very familiar with defenseman Mike Green who patrolled the Capitals blueline from 2005 to 2015. This is the second of two Alumni Profiles on two former Caps with the last name Green. 

Michael David  Green was born on October 12, 1985, in Calgary, Alberta. He played minor junior hockey with the Calgary North Stars in the AMHL with the NASA Hockey Association in 2000-01 as a 15-year old. He began his major junior hockey career with the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League (WHL) late that year and continued playing with the Blades through the 2004-05 season. The Capitals selected him 29th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. In that draft, the Capitals also drafted Alex Ovechkin and Jeff Schultz in the first round, three first-rounders in all. During the 2003-04 season with Saskatoon, he showed glimpses of his future offensive prowess by scoring 14 goals and contributing 25 assists. In his post-draft year, he again had fourteen goals, but this time had 52 assists.

green_04draft_672
Photo: Washington Capitals

He spent most of his first professional season with the Hershey Bears, where he scored nine goals and added 34 assists for 43 points in 56 games played during a season in which the Bears won the Calder Cup as the champions of the AHL. He also played 22 games with the Caps. He had originally started the season with the Caps, playing eleven games before being sent to Hershey. He returned to the Caps on January 31 and scored his first professional goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs and goalie Ed Belfour, on February 3. Before returning to Hershey in March, he scored two goals and one assist for the Caps.

The following season (2006-07), he played 70 games with the Caps and 12 games with the Bears. That season, he scored two goals and added 10 assists during his stint with the Capitals. He even played in the NHL Young Stars game that season, as part of All-Star Weekend, contributing three assists in the game.

Oct 16, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green (52) takes to the ice prior to the Capitals' game against the New Jersey Devils at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Green’s performance blossomed during the 2007-08 season, as he scored 18 goals and had 38 assists for 56 points. 15 of his 18 goals were scored after his former coach from his time with the Hershey Bears, Bruce Boudreau, replaced Glen Hanlon on November 22, 2007. That was also the year in which the Caps climbed from last place in the standings (at the time of Hanlon’s firing) to winning the Southeast Division and securing a playoff berth. He scored three goals and four assists in a losing effort in Round 1 of the playoffs, against the Philadelphia Flyers. That year, he earned the nickname “Game Over Green” as he had developed a knack for scoring the game-winning goal in the closing minutes of regulation or in overtime on a number of occasions. The name was popularized by Capitals TV play-by-play announcer Joe Beninati. In fact, four of his 18 goals were game-winners. He was part of the “Young Guns” movement, along with forwards Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Nicklas Backstrom.

Green’s numbers were even better offensively during the 2008-2009 season, as he scored 31 goals and had 42 assists. That season was highlighted by a streak where he scored goals in eight consecutive games, which set a record for consecutive games with a goal by a defenseman. The streak ran from January 27, 2008 when he scored against the Boston Bruins, until February 14, when he scored against the Tampa Bay Lightning, in a game in which his father was in the stands (as part of the Caps’ annual Fathers’ Trip). He achieved his scoring milestones despite missing time with injury, especially during November and December. He was nominated for the Norris Trophy, given to the best defenseman, at the end of the season, but finished second in voting to Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins.

In addition to his scoring, he was also famous for his faux hawk hairdo. For both the 2008 and 2009 playoffs, a local radio station sponsored a “Rock the Hawk” promotion, in which Green got his hair cut in a Mohawk style, and any fan who had their hair cut in that manner would get free tickets to the playoffs. He also bought a Lamborghini during the 2008-09 season, and was known as Lamborgreenie. Green was heavily-involved in the D.C. community, and his Green’s Gang charity donated several tickets to underprivileged children and families in the area. He also partook in the building of community playgrounds.

He had 19 goals during the 2009-10 season, but that year proved to be the end of his high-scoring years. He missed significant portions of both the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons with injuries. This included groin injuries (that eventually required surgery), a twisted ankle, and a concussion. He scored 10 or more goals in two more of his seasons with the Caps, scoring 13 during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season and 10 for the 2014-15 season, his final season with the team. In his career with the Caps, he played 575 games, scoreing 113 goals and recording 247 assists for 360 points.

He left the Caps as a free agent after the 2014-15 season, signing with the Detroit Red Wings. When he left the team, he was third in franchise history in career goals for a defenseman. His 31-goal season was the second-best goal scoring season for a Caps defenseman, behind only Alan Haworth, who had 34 goals during the 1985-86 season.

By Diane Doyle

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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7 Responses to Capitals Alumni Profile: Mike Green

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