Ten years before he was one of the most coveted hired guns at the NHL trade deadline, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green was a "Young Gun." That was the nickname for his generation of Washington Capitals players during their Alex Ovechkin-led "Rock The Red" resurgence, dominating the Southeast Division and exponentially increasing the size of their fan base with an electric atmosphere at the arena created by electrifying players. Chief among them was Green, a 22-year-old defenseman who created offense like few could from the blue line. He scored 31 goals in 2008-09, the highest total for a defenseman in the past 24 seasons, which included an NHL-record eight straight games with a goal. He accomplished this in just 68 appearances. He was a rock star, and not just because he played the drums in a Capitals' hard rock hype video and sported a Mohawk for the playoffs. But he was also one of the league's most maligned players -- a defenseman that few endorsed for his defense. Back then, if a back-liner scored 70 points in a season -- as Green did in back-to-back campaigns, from 2008-10 -- it was assumed that said defenseman had to also be a defensive liability. It's a reputation that may have contributed to Green being the runner-up for the Norris Trophy in back-to-back years -- losing to Zdeno Chara and Duncan Keith -- and being left off the Canadian Olympic team in 2010. "Yeah, I did get criticized a lot," Green told ESPN, with a laugh. In retrospect, Green was before his time. Today's NHL covets puck-moving defensemen who join the offensive rush in the attacking zone, and each new wave of prospects -- from Shayne Gostisbehere to Zach Werenski to Rasmus Dahlin -- is lauded for the kind of play at which Green excelled. "He would join the attack. He'd stay in the attack. And sometimes he'd never leave the attack," said Capitals coach Barry Trotz, who coached Green in Washington for one season. "Ten years ago, maybe we frowned on that. He probably didn't get the credit he deserved." Ten years ago, we also couldn't quantify it like we do today. Consider this: In Oct. 2008, the influential Capitals site Japers' Rink ran a post called "A Brief Intro To The Corsi Number," an education about an emerging analytic tabulated by hockey bloggers that measured shot attempts as a proxy for puck possession. Today, shot attempts can be found on the NHL's official site stats page.
Mike Green at a career crossroads
ESPN | Jan 30