By Tom Worgo
The Washington Capitals’ Mike Green is one of the NHL’s deadliest sharpshooters from the blue line. Three times, Green has led NHL defenseman in goals. He scored a whopping 31 in 2009 to become only one of eight defensemen to top 30 in NHL history. All those goals made him a two-time finalist for the Norris Trophy, which is given annually to the league’s best defenseman. Off the ice, Green has made big changes in his personal life. He recently married George Mason alum and D.C. native Courtney Paris. And, he sold his condo in Arlington, in favor of a house in McLean.
You moved from a condo to a house recently. Did you find it challenging and fun to decorate and furnish it?
It just takes time. I think we have done a good job of just letting things flow. If we see pieces we like, then we pick them up. We are comfortable and happy where we are at and we will continuously work at it. I am a little bit of a family man now. The style is a little bit different. My condo had dark colors and my house is white and bright.
Can you talk about the training you do during the offseason to prepare for the grind of a seven to eight month season?
I take a couple of weeks off after the season depending on what injuries I’ve had. I do a lot of Olympic lifting type of stuff. I do agility work and swimming. I work out two or three hours in the morning and then I have some sort of skate in the afternoon or I do cardio. As I get older, I especially pay attention to my knees. You almost have to change your routine and structure of your program because sometimes your body just can’t hold up.
Your reputation centers on being an offensive player. Do you feel your defense often gets overlooked?
I have worked hard on my defense. I just took it upon myself to make sure I got better. It wasn’t something that could be fixed. You just have to concentrate on it and I did. I am expected to put up big offensive numbers, but at the end of the day, I am a defenseman and I have to take care of my own end first and play a simple game. The offense will come. It’s hard to find that balance. You have momentum swings, slumps, and scoring streaks. It all kind of comes and goes.
You are only one of eight NHL defensemen to score 30 or more goals in a season. With that as part of your history, how do you measure a successful season?
That was a great year and something you can’t expect to happen every year. Things were just going so right for me [in 2008–2009]. I was very, very offensive minded. I was jumping into the play all the time and taking risks. At the time, the pucks were going in. If they don’t, then you are considered a high-risk player. After that season, I wanted to change all of that. Is it important for me to be offensive and be productive? Yes. Is it important for me to get 30 goals again and be high risk? I don’t think so.
What are you thinking when you have the puck on the blue line and want to score?
I just want to get open and make a play. I am looking at the net. Once I get a clear opening for the net, I shoot. I don’t think about whether there is a guy coming at me. I just shoot for the net. If you worry about the guy, you will probably hit him.
How important was former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau in getting your NHL career jumped started back in 2007?
He gave me the opportunity to play. Before [under Glen Hanlon], I was playing maybe six, seven minutes a game. After Bruce came here, I ended up playing 20 to 25 minutes a game. That’s what I was used to playing in Hershey and the juniors. That’s all you need sometimes is an opportunity. I think he had that trust in me.
What kind of hobbies do you have in the offseason?
I just like to relax a lot. I also golf and fish a lot when I go back up to Canada. I like to watch Ultimate Fighting. One of my favorites is Georges St. Pierrre. He’s one of the biggest fighters and is from Canada. I’ve never seen him live in a match.
What causes do you devote your time to and why?
We have a charity here in D.C. for kids. It’s with Elliot Segal from [D.C. 101’s] Elliott in the Morning. We started it five or six years ago. Our whole mindset was to help kids. Each year, we pick a different nonprofit that we feel we can help. We have included prosthetics for kids, the Children’s Hospital. We built them a play room. We had KaBoom build playgrounds. In general, I have also worked with some teammates for kids, the Garth Brooks Foundation. I have really had fun doing it. Your time is all you got. You have to spend it in the right places on your days off, by going out and helping some charity. That’s even if it is to give a jersey. It’s the little things that count.