He is skating like the wind. Cranking slapshots with precision and fluidity.
By all indications from informal workouts at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the old Mike Green is back. And he says hes better than ever.
Its been eight months since Green underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia that limited him to just 32 games and a career-low three goals and seven points last season. But if you ask him, Green is feeling as good as he has felt in his seven-year career with the Capitals.
Even better, Green said. I think I needed some time to recover from the surgery. The rehab helped, but I didnt have enough time between the surgery and playing to really rehab it fully.
Green said he knew midway through last season that unless he underwent the surgery, which repaired a small hole in his abdominal wall, he would never have the explosiveness that sets him apart from most other NHL defensemen.
I knew I had to get something done, he said. It just was a matter of getting the surgery and getting it healthy again. It set me back, but I had to work hard to get back where I wanted to be. It was just a matter of strengthening and that takes time.
Despite enduring his worst offensive season, Green, 26, agreed to a three-year, 18.25 million contract over the summer, keeping him the Caps highest-paid defenseman and ranking him 12th among all NHL defensemen.
How soon Green will start earning that pay depends on the progress made between the NHL and its players as they try to hammer out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
We all have the same answer, Green said when asked about the labor impasse. We want to play. But well see what happens.