In sports, the adage of “father time remains undefeated” in one variation or another always holds true. While Andy Greene has been a stalwart of the New Jersey Devils blue-line since 2007-08 (while also appearing in 23 contests in 2006-07), father time is starting to do battle with Greene. Sadly, unlike some other NHLers of days past who were able to stave him off for a bit longer (Jaromir Jagr and Nicklas Lidstrom come to mind in terms of recent players), Andy doesn’t look like he will be able to.
The eye test of this season has not been particularly kind to Greene, as he has made a number highlight reel gaffes that have only been magnified by the amount of ice time he receives. The hope for the past summer was that GM Ray Shero would find a lefty defender to push the captain down in the lineup, and while he drafted a lefty defender in Ty Smith, he’s at least one season away from being NHL ready and even then, might not be ready to handle top pairing minutes. Coach John Hynes tried to use Mirco Mueller in the top LD role earlier this season, and outside of the first four games of the season that wasn’t working.
So Andy Greene continues to see more ice than he should at age 36; as such, it stands out even more when we see him bat a puck into his own net, or fail to clear a puck as he did last night on Dallas’ third goal that leads to extended zone pressure for the other team or sometimes worse such as last night. Father time is winning another battle and it’s coming at the expense of an already mediocre Devils defense corp.
Yet as a writer and a fan, I feel bad for Andy Greene because quite simply there’s no one else on the Devils roster who could take his place and get better results. This leaves him unavailable to slide into a more comfortable role where he would be able to find more success at this point in his career. While it’s easy to sit behind a keyboard and blame him for his struggles, management must also share the blame for not finding a body to share some of his workload. The team’s 36 year old captain is being sent out to kill entire penalties (along with Ben Lovejoy) while the forward change multiple times; what kind of asinine strategy is that?
His offense this season deserves commending as well; after three straight 13 point seasons, he already has 12 this year in only 39 games. As an aside, is it maybe just that he’s cursed to have bad luck for the remainder of his career after three consecutive seasons of unlucky 13? At any rate, at least he is providing something for the team, even if he’s also providing goals for the other team.
The argument could be made that there simply weren’t any defenders that were available of a better quality than Greene, or at least not any that wanted to come to New Jersey. Even if that was the case prior, going forward it cannot be ignored that the Devils defense needs improving. Greene might still have one more decent season in the tank for his final contract year, but it won’t look decent if an even older Andy is playing in the same role where he is already floundering
What are your thoughts on Greene’s play this season? Are you worried about a possible further decline? Do you believe he can still bring positives in a lesser role? Are you of the belief that he’s done as an NHL caliber player? Are you sympathetic to the fact that he’s not being put in a position to be successful? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!