Mike Green’s shock of dark hair – which has ranged from a Mohawk to a mop that pointed in all directions – has given way to a clean, stylized look. He’s moved from a two-story urban bachelor pad with a hot tub on the balcony to a spacious suburban home. His numerous tattoos run down his arms and onto his fingers, but since last summer, one of those fingers now wears a wedding ring.
And he’s no longer the run-and-gun, gambling defenseman labelled “mistake prone” in his own zone.
If maturity has transformed the Capitals two-time all-star, a bigger change could come this summer. Unless his Newport Sports representatives and Washington GM Brian MacLellan hammer out a new contract, Green will become the biggest name on the free agent market and perhaps pull another team’s jersey over his head.
The Capitals are the only NHL team Green, who turns 30 in October, has played for. He has literally grown into manhood in the D.C. area, even marrying a local girl, photographer Courtney Parrie, last summer, breaking hearts among those who swooned over his boyish good looks. He’s been a fan favorite since blossoming into a dynamic offensive force in 2007-08, his third NHL season, when Capitals TV voice Joe Beninati gave him the nickname ‘Game Over Green’ after a string of late game-winning tallies. Read more
The 2015 NHL draft saw its share of trade activity involving established NHL players. Among the notables to change teams were Dougie Hamilton (Boston to Calgary), Milan Lucic (Boston to Los Angeles), Ryan O’Reilly (Colorado to Buffalo) and Carl Hagelin (Rangers to Anaheim). Even the rights of all-but-retired defensemen Flyers Chris Pronger was moved as part of a swap that also saw Nicklas Grossman shipped from Philadelphia to Arizona for Sam Gagner.
Despite this unusually high volume of players traded, several others who’ve been frequent fixtures in the rumor mill remain on the market.
On Friday, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported multiple source claiming the Pens were interested in Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari reports Carolina Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner was on the Pens’ list of trade targets. Read more
The Capitals pulled off a pretty neat trick the past few years: mining the second half of the first round for talent and consistently hitting on it. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Tom Wilson and Marcus Johansson all qualify, and picking in that range can be tricky. Add in no-brainer lottery pick Alex Ovechkin plus Nicklas Backstrom and you’ve got a pretty good homegrown core already. All told, Washington has drafted quite well.
Round 1, pick 22
Round 3, pick 62
Round 4, pick 113
Round 5, pick 143
Round 6, pick 173
The Caps are solid in all areas right now, but a two-way center who can also score wouldn’t hurt – someone in a Ryan Kesler mode. With Jakub Vrana in the pipeline, skill is taken care of in spades. Read more
The increase in the NHL salary cap ceiling from $69 million to $71.4 million does little to help the Chicago Blackhawks escape from salary cap hell for 2015-16. They have over $64 million invested in cap payroll, leaving only $7.3 million to invest in new contracts. With restricted free agents Brandon Saad and Markus Kruger to re-sign plus several UFAs to re-sign or replace, the Blackhawks must shed salary.
It’s widely assumed left wingers Patrick Sharp ($5.9-million annually for two more seasons) and Bryan Bickell ($4-million annually, two years) are the likely trade candidates. ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reports that, as of Monday evening, the Hawks weren’t far along in trade talks about any player.
While the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate their latest Stanley Cup championship, GM Stan Bowman will begin the difficult task of determining which of his players become salary-cap casualties. The Blackhawks have more than $64 million invested in cap payroll for 2015-16. They must re-sign restricted free agents Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger, as well as find space to re-sign or replace their unrestricted free agents.
This isn’t the first time Bowman’s faced this problem. Following the Blackhawks 2010 championship, he shipped out several salaried players to become cap compliant for the following season. While he doesn’t have to trade as many this time, he’ll still have to make the difficult choice of determining who must move.
Members of the NHL’s coaching community come from a wide variety of backgrounds – some, like Canucks coach Willie Desjardins, have degrees in social work; others, like Dallas’ Lindy Ruff, are hockey lifers with a background as a worker bee NHLer – but, for the most part, very few of the game’s elite stars have found success as bench bosses. The reasons for it are complex, but by-and-large, the best of the best usually prefer to spend their time away from the type of high-pressure environment occupied by a coach in hockey’s top league. And that’s why news the Red Wings were close to naming Hockey-Hall-of-Famer Chris Chelios as an assistant to new head coach Jeff Blashill is interesting: you rarely see a former player of his calibre at ice level without his equipment on.
Who are the best modern-era players who have evolved into NHL coaches or assistant coaches? Here are the Top 5:
5. Adam Oates. Like the other players who made this list, Oates is a Hall-of-Famer who amassed 1,420 points in 1,337 regular-season games and is regarded as one of the better playmakers in league history. He began his post-career coaching days as an assistant in Tampa Bay and then New Jersey, before the Capitals made him their head coach in June of 2012. And although he failed to make the playoffs in two years guiding the Capitals before he was fired at the end of the 2013-14 campaign, Oates quickly returned behind the bench with the Devils as a “co-coach” alongside Scott Stevens midway through this past year. He’ll likely get another shot, at least, as an assistant, with another NHL franchise. Read more
Nicklas Backstrom had an incredible season for the Washington Capitals, but the star pivot says he had been playing on a bad hip since early in the 2014-15 season. Following surgery to repair the ailment, there could be a long road of rehab ahead for the one-time 100-point scorer.
In an interview with Swedish news outlet Gefle Dagblad, Backstrom said the type of hip injury he suffered and the subsequent surgery has no definite timetable for full recovery, but he has heard that he could be sidelined for up to five months. Right now, Backstrom told the Gefle Dagblad, he’s simply trying to get back to normal. Read more
Judging Team USA on its recent finishes at the world juniors is a tricky thing. Sure, the Americans have landed fifth in the past two outings, but in both cases they fell to the rival Russians in the quarterfinal; they also could have won it all had fate bounced their way.
That is the challenge now accepted by former NHL coach Ron Wilson. Last seen behind the bench with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2012, Wilson has been announced as Team USA’s coach for the 2016 world juniors in Finland and despite his professional hiatus, I can see him being very successful in the role.