Andy Greene wasn’t going to leave the team he had been with for 14 seasons, and captain of for five years, unless it was the right fit.
So when the Islanders acquired Greene from the New Jersey Devils in February, it was on the 37-year-old defenseman’s terms. But neither Greene nor the Islanders could have foreseen how instrumental he has become to the team’s current playoff run.
Although, they did have some insider information on what kind of person Greene was.
General manager Lou Lamoriello gave Greene his first shot in the NHL when he signed the then-23-year-old undrafted defenseman in 2006 when he was with the Devils. Lamoriello, now with the Isles, then pursued Greene eight days before the trade deadline this year to bolster a defense that had lost Adam Pelech to an Achilles injury, giving him somewhat of a second career with a new team.
Greene recorded his second goal of the playoffs in Saturday night’s 4-0 victory over the Flyers in Game 7, giving him four points so far this postseason. The second-period tally put the Isles up 2-0 as they went on to pitch their third shutout inside the Toronto bubble.
“It seems like the trade deadline was 10 years ago at this point,” Greene said on a Zoom call following the win Saturday night. “You know, obviously I had control of the situation with the no trade [clause] and I was only going to do it for certain situations.
“This is the one, the team that I thought we would be where we are today. I honestly did believe that. It was an easy decision for me. I couldn’t be prouder of this team and how we’ve battled in everything we’ve had to go through since February. But it’s exciting and I’m really looking forward to the next series here.”
Greene has started in every game for the Islanders except for Game 1 of the play-in series with the Florida Panthers. Islanders head coach Barry Trotz had said he felt strongly about giving the “traditional” Islanders the first crack at the playoffs, but Johnny Boychuk fell victim to a late hit and he was suddenly unavailable for Game 2.
Notching an assist in his Islanders playoff debut, Greene was cemented into the lineup. And even after Boychuk was said to be healthy and available at the start of the second-round series against the Washington Capitals, Trotz elected to stay with Greene.
Boychuk currently has the most Game 7 experience of any Islanders player on the roster with eight games and still, Trotz stuck with Greene in Saturday’s Eastern Conference finals-clinching Game 7 victory.
“Johnny started, got hurt, Andy came in and did a really good job and we like where we are there,” Trotz said prior to Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday afternoon. “You’ve got a guy like Johnny Boychuk who is all in. That, to me, is the mentality of if it were the other way around and Greeney was not playing and Johnny was, you’d probably have the same response and the same buy-in.
“They’re just all team guys and good players and that’s one of the things that insight has allowed us is that Andy Greene has fit in really well for us.”
Greene registered just three goals in 50 playoff games as a Devil, now he has two goals and two assists and a plus-six rating in 15 games for the Islanders. The right fit indeed.