|Colin Greening is hoping to build upon the 24 games worth of NHL experience he picked up last season, along with the Binghamton Senators' run to the Calder Cup crown (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Already, it's been the kind of year Colin Greening
won't soon forget.
His first National Hockey League game, first NHL goal, a Calder Cup championship ... the Ottawa Senators forward couldn't have asked for much more in his initial foray into professional hockey.
But to hear the 25-year-old Newfoundlander tell it, he's already turned the page on all of that and has his eyes firmly pointed toward the next step in his burgeoning young career. And the 6-3, 211-pound forward will be rarin' to go when the Senators open their 2011-12 training camp on Friday at Scotiabank Place.
"I thought I was very fortunate to be up for 24 games last year, but that was last year," said Greening. "With a new season comes a new set of challenges and hurdles to get over. It’s all part of coming to camp. The prospect of potentially making the team out of camp is very exciting for me. I hope it happens for me, but that’s up to me right now. It depends on how I play in camp."
Given the fact he inked a three-year, one-way contract with the team in May, Greening most likely has a place on the team's roster and should be in the lineup when Ottawa opens its season Oct. 7 in Detroit against the Red Wings. Indeed, it might be said the native of St. John's has gone from longshot — Greening was a seventh-round pick (204th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft — to potential mainstay in a huge hurry.
Still, Greeening intends to maintain the same diligent mindset that got him where he is today. He is taking nothing for granted heading into camp, even if the one-way deal should give him a new sense of security about his immediate future.
"Last year, when I went into camp, it was (about) learning and trying to build up my confidence," said Greening. "I feel like this year, my confidence is a little bit higher, but what still remains is learning the system and trying to play the games as quick as possible. You look at it and there are guys here who have been pros for more than 10 years and I’ve only played one full professional season.
"So I’m still in the learning stage now. When I come into camp, I want to build on the confidence I built up last year and also keep learning so I can become a better player. If I do that, it’ll help me and increase my chances of making the team out of camp."
The 24 games he played in a series of callups to Ottawa last season accelerated his growth curve, to be sure. Greening figures he's quite a ways ahead of the game because of it.
"It was incredible for me, an incredible experience to be put into those situations and to play against top notch, top calibre players," he said. "Just to see how the guys on the Sens and throughout the entire league conduct themselves and how professional they are and how seriously they take it … it is a business and you have to bring your ‘A’ game to every single game.
"It was amazing to see, and to be able to get my timing down and play against those really skilled players was definitely helpful for me in my development"
So, too, was the crucible of playoff pressure Greening experienced with the Binghamton Senators last spring. From the opening-round American Hockey League playoff series against the Manchester Monarchs — the B-Sens rallied from a 3-1 deficit, recording three straight overtime wins — all the way through the Cup final against the Houston Aeros, it was an astounding ride.
"That was a special run we had last year and everything just seemed to click at the right moment," said Greening. "I was talking with a number of guys this summer who we skated against, with it was from Hershey, Bridgeport or wherever, and they said ‘wow, you guys just all came together at the right moment.’ And we only clinched the playoff (berth) with about three games left to play. Then we all came back (from Ottawa) and we just clicked.
"It was neat to go through the playoffs and experience the ups and downs of playoff hockey and realize how tough it is and how well you have to play to get a championship. I think going through that experience last year will help me going into this season."