DETROIT >> For years the Detroit Red Wings have tried and tried to land a top four, right-handed shooting defenseman through free agency and had no luck doing so.
Because of that teams tried to take advantage of their lefty-lefty pairings on the blue line.
“I know when we would play against the Red Wings, we would try to run plays against their left-handed guys,” Mike Green said after an informal practice at Joe Louis Arena.
The Wings landed Green, a right-handed defenseman, on the first day of free agency inking him to a three-year deal worth $18 million.
“Being a right guy, do my best to move the puck and get it into the forwards’ hands,” Green said. “That’s really all of our goals. It doesn’t matter whether you’re right or left.”
Green, who turns 30 on Oct. 12, had spent his entire 10-year career in Washington prior to signing with Detroit.
“A lot of changes, but all positive,” Green said. “Obviously a long time in Washington but moving forward here, I’m extremely excited to be a part of this group, especially with the history, the leadership here and the recipe to win. Overall it’s just a great deal of excitement.
“My and I wife found a place about two weeks ago and I was fortunate that she came down and sort of did all the moving before I got here,” Green added. “I’m excited to be here. The guys have been very welcoming so I can’t wait to get started.”
Green is a two-time Norris Trophy finalist, awarded annually to the league’s top defenseman.
The knock on Green throughout his career is he doesn’t play hard and isn’t air tight defensively, but he will rack up the points.
With the Capitals he totaled 113 goals and 247 assists in 575 regular season games. Fifty-two of his goals came on the power play. In 71 playoff games, Green had nine goals, six on the power play, and 26 assists.
He’s slated to be paired with Danny DeKeyser.
“Great guy, great skater, moves the puck well,” Green said of DeKeyser. “Obviously playing against him, I know sort of just by watching him. I haven’t paid too close attention to his tendencies, but I’m sure I’ll get to learn him real quick here. I’m really excited to play with him.
“Great player, outstanding,” Green continued. “I’ve kept an eye on him. I’ve actually watched a little bit of tape online, just clips of him. I’m excited.”
Green doesn’t see it taking long to mesh his style of play with that of DeKeyser.
“It really depends,” said Green, who was given the stall next to Niklas Kronwall. “I’ve had partners where it’s taken us a little bit longer, but mostly with the sort of newcomers or young guys, it takes a little bit longer. But Danny’s an experienced guy and I’m sure we’ll connect right away and be able to sort of be cohesive out there in a short period of time.”
Green, who had a career high 31 goals in the 2008-09 season, slipped down the Capitals’ depth chart, falling to a third pairing, after they signed Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik for the 2014-15 season. He averaged just over 19 minutes of ice time, which was the lowest since his first full season in the league, and scored just 10 goals and had 35 assists in 72 games.
“Really just getting back out and competing,” Green said when asked what he’s looking forward to the most with the Wings. “That’s the fun part of the game. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against or what, just that competition. That’s what I’m really looking forward to, just a different style of play. Detroit plays a very puck-possession game and has some incredible players that can make some plays so I’m excited to play with these guys.”
Darren Helm probably knows Green the best since he’s worked out with him in the past.
“I stop in Calgary a couple weeks every summer and jump in with him at his gym and get to train with him,” Helm said. “He’s a great guy, really nice. You don’t really know too many people when you go into new teams or new gyms, and he made that transition real easy for me. Hopefully I can help him do that with this team. It was always fun to work out with him and now it’s going to be even better having him on our team.”