After a 16 year playing career, the eleventh captain in franchise history signed a one day contract to retire with the Devils.
Congratulation to Andy Greene on an outstanding NHL career. Greene was signed by the Devils as an undrafted free agent in 2006 after playing four years of college hockey at Miami University of Ohio. He would go on to play 973 games as a Devil in the regular season and playoffs and wear the C as the team’s captain from 2015 until he was traded to the Islanders in 2020.
Greene was an important part of the Devils blue line from the day he was called up from the Lowell Devils in 2006. Injuries to more established NHL defenders Johnny Oduya and Colin White necessitated Green to step into the NHL and play an average of 14 minutes per game in 23 regular season games. He impressed the Devils enough to be included on the playoff roster that year and play in 11 games. Greene was an undrafted player in his first year of pro hockey being relied upon in the playoffs. That does not happen often. Typically undrafted players need to spend a few seasons in the minors before earning a spot on a playoff roster. In just one season split between the AHL and NHL, Greene proved to the Devils that he was good enough to help the team compete for a Stanley Cup. He would never play another game in the AHL after his rookie season, going on to play 1,147 NHL games in the regular season and playoffs.
Greene was never known for being an offensive threat, but he didn’t need to put up points to be effective and help the Devils win. Greene averaged over 21minutes of time on ice per game over his 14 seasons with New Jersey. He was relied upon to shut down the opposition’s best lines and did a remarkable job over the course of his Devils career. Greene was incredibly tough, blocking over 1,700 shots in his time playing in the Garden State, and even had consecutive games played streak of 350 games between 2012 and 2017. In his time as a Devil, Greene started over 60% of his shifts in the defensive zone, yet the Devils still managed to outscore teams when Greene was on the ice. Over his career with the Devils, Greene was on the ice for an average of 2.3 goals for the Devils per 60 minutes of ice time. Meanwhile, the Devils only allowed an average of 1.5 goals per 60 minutes of Andy Greene ice time. Despite playing mostly in the defensive zone, the Devils were more likely to score a goal than allow one with Greene on the ice. That is due in very large part to the fact that Greene was a fantastic defensive player. For those that rely more heavily on analytics than I do, Andy Greene was an analytical darling, as evidenced below.
Greene was captain of the Devils during a very bleak time in the franchises history. The Devils made the playoffs just one time, 2018, in the five years that Greene was the captain. Despite Greene being a very good player on a very bad team, he never publicly complained, ridiculed the organization, or demanded to be traded. He just led the team on to the ice every night and did whatever he could to try and help the team win. Greene, at least publicly, carried himself with a quiet and unassuming professionalism and I’m yet to hear any former coach or teammate complain about Greene as a person or a player.
In February of 2020, Andy Greene was traded to the Islanders in exchange for David Quenville and a second round pick, which was later flipped by the Devils to acquire Ryan Graves from the Avalanche. Greene was traded because his contract was coming to an end, the Devils were not in position to compete for a Stanley Cup and the Islanders were looking to make a deep run into the playoffs but needed a stronger defense. Greene would go on to help the Islanders reach back to back conference finals but was never able to hoist the Stanley Cup as a player. Andy Greene is a player that deserves to be in a Devils Ring of Honor. Players such as Greene, Travis Zajac, John MacLean, Sergei Brylin, and Bruce Driver, who were important to the organization for a long period of time but aren’t quite worthy of number retirement should still be honored by the organization. I would propose a Ring of Honor or a Wall of Fame somewhere in the Prudential Center to hang their picture and maybe a plaque detailing their accomplishments within the organization. Hopefully some day the Devils will put something like that together.
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