On April 5th of 2008 the Washington Capitals completed their final regular season game of the season with a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers. At a shade under 28 minutes, Mike Green led the Caps in time on ice. That day, some four years ago, was a unique day for Mike Green.
On that Saturday in April Green achieved something that he had never done before, and that he has never done since. Mike Green played in all 82 regular season games for the Washington Capitals.
In the two seasons to follow, Green did not make it through every single game, but he did make a huge impact. The Caps defenseman rose in popularity after scoring 70+ points in those two dominating years for the Washington Capitals.
After the 2008-09 season which featured an All-Star selection, the Washington Capitals locked up Mike Green for 4 years. The team was expecting an iron-man offensive-minded defender who would dominate ice time and games played for years to come. But after another 70 point season in 2009-10, injuries started to plague the All-Star defender, and his popularity in DC began to drop.
Over the course of the next two seasons, Mike Green missed an entire season's worth of games plus one (83). Between concussions, ankle problems, groin issues, and sports hernias, Green started to develop a reputation for being injury prone. In the eyes of a number of fans, the guy who was once a Washington hero, was starting to become a goat.
(Googling 'Mike Green Injury' yields almost 9,000 results)
Between the seasons of 2009-10 and 2010-11, number 52's point production dropped 52 points, and in 2011-12 he finished with a career low 7 regular season points. Not only did his games played drop, but when he was on the ice his production was down drastically. Green was a shell of the former player he used to be, but was it due to Green playing hurt?
The Washington Capitals must think so. The organization does not seem to be worried about Green's previous injury troubles or his decrease in production. On Monday, the Caps locked up the defender for another 3 seasons, paying him over $18 million dollars. A steep price to pay for a risky player.
(At least they didn't give him $100 million like the Wizards gave to Gilbert Arenas after Arenas became injury plagued)
Green said to the Washington Post “It was unfortunate the last couple years that I’ve suffered from injuries. But I believe that I’m over them now. I think I got them all out of my system."
Injuries aren't exactly something you "get out of your system" but for sake of the player and his organization, it will hopefully be something that no-longer defines the career of Mike Green.