Kings Player Grades, Crowned Royal Style: Matt Greene
In this series, we will post a new grade daily for each player that suited up for the Kings in 2010-2011. Since no one here is a credited teacher or NHL scout, we will rate players in the way we are most qualified: by comparing them to the alcoholic beverage that best represents their play on the ice.
Your Los Angeles Kings: leading cause of alcoholism among Southern California hockey fans since 1967.
Matt Greene – Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon
“101% Flavorful; 101% Unbreakable.”
Wild Turkey packs more of a punch than it at first seems to with its 101 proof rating. It has a cinnamon flavor that helps it go down smooth, but once it hits your stomach you know you’re well on your way to feeling wobbly.
Matt Greene is the anchor to the Kings’ defense’s edginess and the core of the team’s toughness. You’ve all seen the photo a hundred times of his bloodied head after blocking a shot with his face in the closing seconds of a game. The photo is of Greene congratulating his goaltender after the horn sounded- which is the remarkable part of the moment: not just that he blocked a shot with his forehead, but that he do not immediately seek medical attention as blood started to impede his vision.
Having a player like Greene on the team makes the other players want to do more, because they know that there is someone who will do whatever it takes to help the team succeed. He is not the captain of the team, (alternate) but he is the heart of the team. Sure, Dustin Brown leads by example as well, but Greene is on another level.
He is the type of player that prefers to show off scars and bruises before statistics. Of course, he doesn’t have a lot to show for in the latter, but that is the point: the Kings need him for the blood he leaves on the ice, not marks on the scoresheet.
Of course, his ability to keep pucks out of the Kings’ net helps too. Greene plays a lot of tough minutes, namely the penalty kill and closing minutes of tight games. He led all defensemen in hits/game (2nd overall with 243 to Luke Schenn’s 251 but played 11 less games) and was actually 9th overall in the category. This shows that he perpetuates the principle of ‘no easy ice’ and makes the team harder to play against overall, which is the Andy Murray cliche for ‘we can’t score but we can hit people’, but it is a noticeable attribute among certain teams.
Greene can be a bit overzealous with his body-checking, not as badly as Doughty, but there are instances when a poke-check would be superior to a shoulder to the chest. He is most likely the second slowest regularly dressed skater on the team, though he is cautious and rarely out of position.
His offensive skills have always been lacking, but he has been relied on for other things. Greene is the guy who steps in to fight someone who has crossed the line with one of the top six forwards, as Westgarth or Clifford aren’t out on the ice when Kopitar or Williams are.
He gives the impression that he would be the guy in any group to perform the craziest stunts, as he would never back down from any dare because he doesn’t have it a wimpy bone in his body.
Off the ice, Greene is a vocal veteran that the players respect and love to have around for his sense of humor. Not a lot of guys could pull off staring straight faced for the duration of another player’s interview, but Matt Greene backs down from no challenge, even ones as seemingly menial as trying to creep out a young player in front of a camera.
That’s what makes Matt Greene vital- his willingness to overlook the moment for the end goal.
And that’s why you shouldn’t drink Wild Turkey. Let the Matt Greene’s of the world do it.