ARLINGTON, Va. – The Hockey Hall of Fame wants Mike Green’s stick, the one that scored the goal that set an NHL record.
Green is extremely reluctant to comply. “I can’t part with that one,” the Washington Capitals defenceman said. “They wanted it right after the game, and I wasn’t going to give it up.” Green has been in high demand in many ways since his eight-game goal-scoring streak, the longest by a defenceman in NHL history.
Tuesday was his first practice at home since the run came to an end, and reporters crowded around his locker anxious for new details.
Front and centre: What about the stick?
Green scored every goal during the streak with the same stick. It has lasted about 10 games, a good run considering he usually makes it only five of six games with a stick before it breaks.
“That one felt the best I’ve ever used,” Green said. “It just comes off the blade good. You don’t have to look down. It’s a good feel.”
Green said he’ll send the Hall of Fame something to commemorate his feat. Perhaps his gloves will satisfy everyone. Asked if he would consider sending the stick once it breaks, he wasn’t sure.
“If I don’t give it to the Hockey Hall of Fame, I’ll keep it forever,” Green said.
And for good reason.
The streak is full of great memories.
Green scored 10 times over the eight games, including five goals on power plays. The record-breaker came on a power play at 5:33 of the second period in Saturday night’s 5-1 win over Tampa Bay.
The entire team went on the ice to congratulate him, having received special permission from the NHL to empty the bench.
Green’s father was there for the big moment because it happened to come during the Capitals’ annual invite-the-parents-along road trip to Florida.
After the game, teammate Alex Ovechkin filled Green’s face with a shaving-cream pie.
“It was a special event. History was made, and it was a great to be a part of it,” defenceman Shaone Morrisonn said. “He can break some more records, the way he can play.”
Green’s 22 goals were seven more than any other defenceman in the league entering Tuesday’s games, even though he missed 13 games early this season with an injury.
He also began the day tied for the league lead among all players with 15 power-play goals.
Last year, he and Ovechkin became the first pair of teammates to lead the NHL in overall goals and goals by a defenceman since Mario Lemieux and Paul Coffey in 1988-89.
They seem like shoo-ins to repeat that accomplishment – Ovechkin already has 41 this season, with another 60-goal season within reach.
Throw in Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin, and the Capitals are the only team with four 50-point scorers.
“Alex wants to score 70. Mike Green wants to be the best,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “So when you’ve got two guys who have that great inner drive, I don’t have any thought that they’re going to sit and take it easy at any time.”
For an unusual postscript, Ovechkin and Green were headliners again after Tuesday’s practice, when the Capitals played a game of “Juice Boy.”
It’s an elimination game – and the goal is to be eliminated early.
Players took turns trying to shoot into the upper corners of the net. Make the shot, and you’re done.
Keep missing, and you’ll end up in the humbling, final round.
So, who was in the final?
None other than Ovechkin and Green.
Green made the final shot and celebrated, while Ovechkin flung his stick down the length of the ice in frustration.
As the loser, Ovechkin had to walk around the locker room with a tray, serving Gatorade to his teammates.
“Green, my stick was broken,” Ovechkin yelled, trying to offer up an excuse for his rare defeat.
“Ovie, it doesn’t matter,” Green called back with a smile.
Notes: Boudreau, who appeared as an extra in “Slap Shot,” was happy to learn that a studio is planning a remake of the 1977 classic hockey movie. Who should get his old part? “Mickey Rooney,” said the coach, apparently all too aware of the resemblance between him and balding movie star. … The Capitals assigned D Karl Alzner and F Jay Beagle to Hershey of the AHL.