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Greene leading by example on Devils' blue line

by Staff Writer / New Jersey Devils
Greene celebrates his OT winner last Saturday in Washington.
New Jersey Devils defenseman Andy Greene appreciates the fact that people are asking him how he feels about not making it on to the United States' long list for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but he's actually somewhat shocked that it's even been a topic of conversation in hockey circles.

"To tell you the truth I guess I would be more surprised if I was on that list," Greene said.

Greene is not subject to the Olympic drug-testing protocol administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency under guidelines set forth by the World Anti-Doping Agency because he was not put on the USA's long list. A USA Hockey representative said players omitted from the long list are not technically ineligible to play in the Olympics because there is an appeal process, but it's clearly more difficult for them.

"It honestly wasn't really something that was on my mind," Greene said. "It didn't cross my mind one way or the other, being disappointed or excited."

Greene, though, is humbled that the omission of his name is even being discussed.

"It means I'm doing something right that there is that talk of a what-if," Greene said. "It's not something I look at, though. Me playing at a high level helps our team and that's the way I try to look at it. I'm not going to sit there and sulk. Really things happen for a reason."

Greene certainly has been playing at level befitting a guy who could have been receiving legitimate Olympic consideration. He's been the Devils' most consistent and reliable defenseman, averaging more than 24 minutes of ice time per game and leading the team's blue liners with 20 points in 39 games, including a three-point night with an overtime winner Saturday against the Washington Capitals.

Greene is easily one of the most unassuming No. 1 defenseman in the NHL. He joins the rush, but he isn't flashy. He rarely says anything off color or not in line with the Devils' overall message of team first, everything else a distant second.

"Last year he was our best defenseman, hands down, through the shortened schedule and he's carried that into this year," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "He's playing with a lot of confidence in all situations against everybody's best players. There's not much more to say than that."

Well that's not entirely true. The other element that Greene has brought to the Devils this season is leadership and guidance to their stable of young, promising defensemen. Through his play, Greene has served as something of a mentor to rookies Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill.

"He's a great influence because he plays the game the right way," DeBoer said. "He's a true pro. He shows up and this is a guy that wasn't given anything, wasn't drafted and has worked for everything he's got. It's great to have people like in the room."

Greene signed with the Devils in 2006 as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Miami (Ohio). His only international experience came at the IIHF World Championship in 2010.

"He's a huge key component of this team and I think he's one of the best defensemen in the League," Merrill said. "I don't understand why he doesn't get that much recognition, but he should. He deserves it."

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