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Red Wings' DeKeyser welcomes playing with Green

by Paul Harris

DETROIT -- Mike Green has been one of the NHL's premier offensive defensemen during his 10-season career, all with the Washington Capitals.

The Detroit Red Wings, who signed Green to a three-year contract July 1, believe they can make him a quality two-way defenseman.

Detroit general manager Ken Holland and coach Jeff Blashill have said Green will be paired this season with Danny DeKeyser, who former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock called "The Human Eraser" because of his strong defensive play.

DeKeyser, 25, talked about potentially playing alongside Green on Wednesday, when he served as an on-ice instructor at Red Wings Youth Hockey Camp at Joe Louis Arena.

"I think he's a great player," said DeKeyser, who said he has not talked to Holland or Blashill since Green signed with Detroit. "He's got a great shot from the point, he moves the puck up the [defensive] zone fast and he can skate really well.

"I don't know what the pairings are going to be. If we end up being paired together, I think it would be a good combo."

Green, 29, played primarily on the Capitals' third defense pair in 2014-15, when he had 10 goals and 35 assists in 72 games.

Blashill said a Green-DeKeyser combination would be beneficial to each player.

"That's something we talked about, something we feel could be a good skill-set match," Blashill said. "We think both guys could benefit."

That's fine with DeKeyser, who had two goals and 31 points in 80 games in 2014-15, his second full NHL season.

"I think that [Green helping my offensive production] would be great," DeKeyser said. "I think in the past few years with the back end we've wanted to contribute a little more than we have. Obviously, [Niklas] Kronwall's been the leader back there with that, but bringing in another guy like Green, who will bring some offense, will definitely help us out a ton.

"I just want to take another step and try to lead a little bit more on the back end."

DeKeyser has experience playing for Blashill, who will make his NHL coaching debut in 2015-16. He replaced Babcock, who was hired as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 20.

Blashill was coach at Western Michigan University when DeKeyser played there as a freshman in 2010-11.

"He's a really good coach and he demands a lot from his players, but I think he pushes everybody to be the best they can be," DeKeyser said. "I think it's really good and he's really open-minded about things too. He's easy to talk to and he's a good coach. He knows his stuff."

DeKeyser also played for Blashill when he coached Grand Rapids, Detroit's American Hockey League affiliate, in the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs, when Grand Rapids won the championship. Blashill was coach of Grand Rapids for the past three seasons.

"When he was on the ice, he made sure everybody knew what they were doing," DeKeyser said. "There was no, 'What's going on? What are we doing in this situation?' He made sure we were prepared for every game and every situation.

"I've talked to guys that played for him before I did and they've said that he's kind of the same. That's good. It's been working for him. I think that's what he's sticking with."

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