I’m always a little bit astonished at how much some people dislike Mike Green, the NHL’s premiere offensive defenceman. There was backlash last season when he showed up as a Norris finalist, there was backlash at the backlash when he missed the Canadian Olympic team, and now there’s some more backlash because he’s a Norris finalist again over guys like Chris Pronger, Nicklas Lidstrom and Shea Weber.
There’s a school of thought out there that suggests if a defenceman isn’t blocking shots (although Green has 105) and throwing hits (Green is credited with 133) and taking the puck away from the opposition (Green’s 44 takeaways led the Washington blue-line) he’s not doing his job. It’s a school of thought that values the traditional, Murray Baron-esque mold of defenceman over a guy who cheats for offence.
Personally, I don’t understand it, but maybe that’s because of how I view the game. The most important attribute in a hockey player is the ability to outscore the opposition. That’s it. Stylistically, it doesn’t matter if a team wins 6-5, 3-2, or 1-0; the only thing that matters is the one goal lead.
Now, if Green’s penchant for offence was leading to losses, I’d be right on board with the ‘he can’t play defence/he’s a liability’ crowd. And based on how he helps the Capitals out-score their opposition, I think he deserves to be a finalist. Not the winner (Duncan Keith’s incredible even-strength performance sells me), but a finalist.