Of the players on Washington’s roster, only three – Mike Green, Brooks Laich and Jeff Schultz – remain from the group that won a Calder Cup with Bruce Boudreau in Hershey. They played for Boudreau before he became Washington’s head coach on Thanksgiving Day 2007 and flourished under his tenure with the Capitals.
Perhaps no one so much as Green, who went from a run of the mill defenseman to a two-time Norris Trophy finalist that led all NHL blueliners in offensive statistics. He played 270 NHL games under Boudreau, recording 76 goals, 153 assists and was a plus-79. In 104 games prior to Boudreau’s arrival, playing under Glen Hanlon, Green recorded six goals, nine assists and was a minus-21.
But Green, 26, said Wednesday he had not spoken with Boudreau, who was fired and replaced by Dale Hunter on Monday.
“It’s a new chapter now, but obviously he was a great coach and unfortunately we weren’t responding here in the last couple months,” Green said. “I think it was a necessary thing. We’re definitely happy to have Dale here. He seems like an honest guy, a strict guy and that seems to be what we need maybe for guys to respond properly.”
Green is expected to miss a 10th consecutive game Thursday with a strained right groin muscle. The Capitals’ struggle to win consistently coincided with Green’s absences due to injury, first the twisted right ankle and now the groin problem – Washington is 4-10-1 without him in the lineup. To be certain, though, Washington’s maladies are not solely related to Green missing from the lineup.
There is no definitive time table for his return, and when Green does he will have a new head coach in Hunter, who has spent the earliest part of his tenure retooling Washington’s defensive system.
Players will be expected to keep up with opponents man-on-man and win each individual battle along with playing a 1-2-2 trap system to help prevent odd-man rushes while capitalizing off of turnovers the method creates. (More on the system a little later this morning.)
System alterations or not, Green insisted he is not concerned about having a new coach might impact his own personal performance.
“No. Not at all. I play the game the way I play and within the system. That’s it,” Green said. “That’s the bottom line, it doesn’t change at all.”