From his arrival in 2008 to hoisting his first Stanley Cup in 2012, bruising defenseman Matt Greene had arguably been the most reliable blueliner for the Los Angeles Kings. But over the last two seasons, Greene has spent more time in the press box than on the ice.
During the lockout-shortened 2013 season, Greene played just five regular-season games and nine playoff games. This past regular season, the 31-year-old suited up for just 38 games, but took part in 20 of his team's 26 playoff games en route to another championship. In his 38 games this past regular season, Greene scored two goals and four assists, and while he notched two fewer goals than his career high (2011-12), the University of North Dakota alum needed all 82 games to score his four goals two seasons earlier, scoring once every 20.5 games. This past season, Greene needed just 38 games, averaging a goal every 19 outings. Needless to say, while he did miss a lot of time this past season, Matt Greene did make the most of his time on the ice.
But as previously mentioned, Matt Greene has never been notorious for lighting the lamp. Instead, the 6' 3, 232-pounder has relied on his size to do the talking. In addition to delivering timely, devastating hits, Greene has made a name for himself sacrificing his body to prevent those crucial shots from reaching the net.
This past season, Matt Greene blocked 59 shots (1.55 per game) while dishing out 118 hits (3.1 per game). But while Robyn Regehr, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin and Slava Voynov all registered more hits than No. 2 did, it is only fair to mention that all four appeared in over twice as many games than Greene did.
In the playoffs, even though Greene's average in blocked shots decreased from his regular season totals, the big man made no less of an impact en route to hockey's Holiest prize. In 20 games, Greene registered 24 blocked shots but did average 3.1 hits per game again, serving up a grand total of 62. He may not have scored during the postseason but Matt Greene did help out offensively with four assists.
During the regular season, Matt Greene's average ice time was 15:53 and in the playoffs, 14:27. Neither number implies the role of a top-four defenseman but Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi didn't seem to care as this off-season, he re-signed his bruising blueliner to a new four-year contract.
The news caught many off-guard as it was believed that if Matt Greene had re-signed, it would be for just a year or two. But Dean Lombardi had other ideas and, as he has proven many times during his tenure with the Kings, I am smarter than to question or even criticize the decisions the Los Angeles GM makes.
Like what has appeared to be a common theme in Los Angeles over the course of the last few years, Matt Greene shows his worth more and more as the season progresses. But fans in Los Angeles are simply hoping that the defenseman can stay healthy next season. After all, as he has already proven, Matt Greene makes the most of his time on the ice, as limited as it has been over the last couple of years, so just imagining what the big man can do if he were to suit up for 70-plus games will certainly leave fans feeling excited for 2014-15.
I speak for many when I say that I wish I could have seen more of Matt Greene last season, and while I was reticent about his new contract this summer, I do know that I wasn't willing to say goodbye to an unsung hero who has meant so much to the Los Angeles Kings both on and off the ice in the six years he has been here.
Overall grade for Matt Greene: C+