It’s unclear when Green, who was not made available to comment for this story, will return from his latest setback, a strained right groin muscle that he suffered in mid-November. When Green’s recovery plateaued two weeks ago, the Capitals decided to take an experimental route with his rehabilitation, according to several people familiar with the situation who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the defenseman’s recovery.
Green received Accelerated Recovery Performance (ARP) treatment, which involves electrical stimulation, in Minnesota, according to those people. It’s unclear whether Green, who skated for five days prior to the NHL’s holiday break, has benefited from the program.
But while Green’s teammates, coaches and agent, as well as Capitals’ officials await his return, all say the groin injury will not pose a significant threat to the defenseman’s career. But there’s no denying that the steady string of ailments have had an impact on it.
“The last two years, he’s had a lot of things go wrong — the concussions, now the groin and the foot,” said Nicklas Backstrom, one of Green’s close friends on the team. “I think he’s trying to be as positive as he can and get back as soon as possible, but it’s tough for him. You can see he’s frustrated. I feel bad for him and I want to see him play hockey again. That’s all he wants to do.”
In the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, Green led all NHL defensemen in points. But in the two years since, he has been sidelined by injuries to his shoulder, knee and hip flexor, a pair of concussions, a twisted right ankle and now the groin strain. The limited playing time has kept Green, 26, from continuing his evolution as a player, whether that would have included becoming a consistent two-way presence or continuing to dominate with his offense.
It’s possible that Green’s lack of durability could result in a pay cut. The Calgary native will earn $5 million this season in the final year of his current contract, a four-year deal worth $21 million, and become a restricted free agent this summer. In order to retain Green’s negotiating rights in the offseason, the Capitals will need to make a qualifying offer of a one-year deal worth $5 million.
Green played his best game of this season on Oct. 22 when he tied his career high of four points in a single contest in Washington’s 7-1 win over Detroit, but he missed the next six games with the twisted ankle. Less than eight minutes into his return to the lineup, on Nov. 11, Green was hit in the corner by New Jersey’s Ryan Carter and suffered the groin strain.