How important was defenseman Mike Green
to the Washington Capitals
Consider this: Not only were his 18 goals a career-high and the most by a defender in the NHL this past season, but he outscored all other Capitals defensemen by two.
As a result, Capitals General Manager George McPhee
made certain his restricted free agent would remain in Washington for the foreseeable future when he announced the signing of Green to a four-year extension Tuesday.
"Mike has developed into an impact defenseman in the short time since we drafted him, and he will be a key part of our team moving forward," McPhee said. "We look forward to his further contributions as we continue to improve the hockey club."
Green is happy the deal is done and looking forward to the 2008-09 season.
"There's a little added pressure signing a deal like this and the expectations involves, but, at the same time, it takes some pressure off knowing I'm where I want to be," Green said. "We have a lot of unfinished business here in Washington.
"I wanted to be in Washington and while I personally didn't think it would come down to the last day, I'm just happy to have the deal done. I think the four-year deal made the most sense for me. I mean, I would have signed a 10-year deal if it made sense, but this four-year deal was something I felt good about."
A first-round pick (29th overall) by the Capitals in 2004, Green had 56 points in 82 regular-season games, recording the most goals and points by a Capitals defenseman since 2002-03.
He collected eight power-play goals (tied for third on the team), four game-winning goals (tied for second on the team) and a franchise single-season record three overtime goals (tied for the NHL lead). Additionally, he finished with a plus-6 rating, the first time in his three-season NHL career that he has finished on the positive side of the plus/minus ledger.
Left wing Alex Ovechkin
(65 goals) and Green became the first teammates to lead the NHL in goals by a forward and by a defenseman, respectively, since Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux
(85) and Paul Coffey
(30) in 1988-89.
Green was also third in playoff scoring on the team (seven points in seven games) behind Ovechkin (nine points) and Alexander Semin
(eight points). He also ranked fifth among all skaters in ice time per game (26:58) during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Green's nickname, "Game Over," became popular after the several game-winning goals he registered for the Caps in the last minute of the third period or in overtime.
"I think the fans of Washington had a pretty good thing going on there, especially at the end of the season," Green said. "It's nice when the fans got to know us and they jumped on board with us. That always helps, knowing you have the fan support and they are behind you. That also made this decision of playing with Washington a lot easier."
The 6-foot-2, 201-pound Green excelled under head coach Bruce Boudreau
, recording 15 goals and 49 points in 61 games following Boudreau's hiring Nov. 22. The Capitals were 11-4 when Green scored a goal and 28-7-2 when he recorded a point. He had three multiple-goal games and 14 multiple-point games on the season.
During Washington's seven-game winning streak to secure the Southeast Division title and its first playoff berth in four seasons, Green had a goal, eight assists and a plus-10 rating.
According to Green, having Boudreau as coach also played a major role in his re-signing with the team.
"Bruce and I have been through quite a bit over the last three years and the fact he was named Coach of the Year (at the NHL Awards Show in June) says a lot about the type of coach and person he is," Green said. "We have a great relationship and I didn't want to leave Bruce, so that was another reason I was hoping things would work out.
"Bruce knew me as a player when I was in Hershey (in the American Hockey League) and then when he became coach in Washington, he just let me play my game. As a player, that's the most important thing -- getting that ice time. He was a big part of my having an opportunity to play and seeing what I could do."
"I wanted to be in Washington and while I personally didn't think it would come down to the last day, I'm just happy to have the deal done." - Mike Green
Off the ice, Green is involved in a number of community organizations and events. He is raising money for Children's National Medical Center as part of America's Giving Challenge, sponsored by Parade
magazine, and is also involved in the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He also participated with Ovechkin speaking at a local middle school and participating in a game of floor hockey.
"I'll always try and do as much as I can to help the kids in the area," Green said. "That's something that means a lot."
He'll be playing in front of a new goaltender in the fall.
Theodore, who will turn 32 on Sept. 13, spent the past two seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. He won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player in 2001-02 with the Montreal Canadiens.
Theodore was 28-21-3 with three shutouts, a 2.44 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage with Colorado in 2007-08, including a 21-13-2 record, a 2.24 GAA and a .919 save percentage in his last 37 starts.
Theodore started 20 of the Avalanche's last 21 games in 2007-08 en route to his fifth career 20-win season. He ranked fifth among NHL goaltenders with a 2.24 GAA after January 1. Theodore posted a 6-1 record in shootouts this past season and is 9-2 in his career.
A second-round choice of the Canadiens in the 1994 Draft, Theodore spent parts of 10 seasons with Montreal, including his Hart Trophy season in 2001-02. He also won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender and made his first of two NHL All-Star Game appearances that year.
Theodore appeared in his 400th career game in 2007-08 and has a career record of 183-197-40, with a 2.65 GAA and a .909 save percentage. He ranks 10th among active goaltenders in career appearances with 444 and 14th in victories with 183.
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.