[Mike Green was on an NHL media conference call this afternoon. Here's the transcript of the wide-ranging call.]
Q. I just want to ask you if you've thought ahead at all to 2010 and your almost certain pick to the Team Canada?
MIKE GREEN: Well, I've obviously thought about it. You know, it would be a great honor to play. It's something that I definitely want to work towards. In the end, it's not up to me. It's up to Team Canada who they want to have. I would be more than honored to be a part of that club.
Q. How much of a hockey historian are you? Do you like go back and look at things of old players and things that have happened? Have you allowed yourself to sit back and really appreciate what you accomplished over the past couple of weeks?
MIKE GREEN: First of all, no, I don't know much about the history. Obviously a little bit growing up playing hockey in Canada, but records and stats and whatnot I'm not a big follower on. But I was aware of the record about two days before New York, and I obviously wanted to reach it. I didn't really get too worked up about it or try to do it. I think if I would have tried to do it it wouldn't have worked out the way it did. I'm pretty happy with what happened.
Q. Now that you own it and you've got past it, have you reflected on it at all, or is that something you'll do down the line?
MIKE GREEN: No. You know, I had a little chance to celebrate in Florida. We stayed an extra night there after the game. But it's been go, go, go lately. I haven't really had a chance to sit back and really think about it, so...
Q. Defensemen scoring 20-plus goals now is a lot rarer than it was in, say, Ray Borque's day or Paul Coffey's day. Is there a ? I wouldn't say a secret to it ? but how is it that defensemen score goals, and how have you been so successful doing it?
MIKE GREEN: Well, you know, I think it's just matter of positioning. I get a chance to play a lot of minutes on the power-play. Obviously having an extra guy out there leaves us open and you get more chances to score. But not only that, I play with some of the best players in the world. Alexander Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Fedorov, these guys are incredible passers and playmakers. I mean, you know, when guys are putting the puck right on your cape and you just have to put it in the net, it makes it that much easier. I gotta give credit to my teammates.
Q. Do you think about scoring 30 goals or a milestone like that?
MIKE GREEN: It's obviously something that ?? as long as I'm contributing, whether it's points or goals, is all that matters. If it comes to 30 goals and I reach that milestone, then that's great. But it's not something that I think about it. I think if you think about it and you're wanting it you go out there and try maybe things that are out of the ordinary of your game. I don't really think about it. I just go out and play and make sure I take advantage of situations that I'm in to score.
Q. First of all, I'm curious, the club has lost a lot of games to injury this season. Do you feel there's a little bit of a benefit to the amount of playing time and experience that these young kids have received this season with the team?
MIKE GREEN: Yeah, I think it's great. I mean, it was interesting, because we did have, I think at one point, eight or nine guys out with injuries. You know, these young guys come up from Hershey and they play fantastic. It's like we didn't miss anybody. I think it's good for our organization. It means that our team's going to be good for a long time. You know, with them playing the same system down in Hershey as we do up here, that really helps out, too. For those guys that come up and play the way they did there, they have bright futures ahead of them.
Q. What did you think of the breakaway shootout in the All-Star Game? Two, do you think that will be forgotten come Sunday?
MIKE GREEN: Well, I hope it's forgotten come Sunday. You know, it was interesting. I'm not going to lie. It was a little bit of a show. I personally wouldn't have done it myself, but if you know Alex or ?? I don't know Malkin too well, but he was doing something wild anyway no matter what was going on. Yeah.
Q. I'm looking here at the schedule, and you guys went up to Pittsburgh and beat them 4-3, and then a little later you beat them 6-3 pretty decisively. There was a time a couple years ago where Pittsburgh was seen as better than the Capitals. Are you guys now holding the upper hand for these two upcoming home games you'll play against them? Do you feel you're getting better than Pittsburgh?
MIKE GREEN: I wouldn't say we're a better team. We have both had some success lately. They're a great team. They went to the Stanley Cup finals last year, so we can't say that we're a better team. Obviously this year we've had the upper hand, but come Sunday we don't expect them to play not up to the level that they're capable of. I think they're going to be excited to play us. We always get excited to play each other, so it should be a great game.
Q. What's hardest about defending against Crosby, and what's hardest about defending against Malkin?
MIKE GREEN: Crosby, you know, he's very decisive, and it's hard to tell when he's going to take a step on you or whatnot. He passes the puck so well that you have to be careful. But with Malkin, he gets in the gray areas to score goals. He's got a lot a lot of skills and he'll make you look silly, so you got to be careful with both of those guys.
Q. Just calling to ask if you could talk a bit about the resurgence of hockey in Washington. How, especially in the last year, kind of following your guy's playoff run, with the excitement of your current young core, the Capitals have become more prominent on the sports landscape there in town. Anything in particular that you've noticed with that?
MIKE GREEN: It's been really exciting here over the last year and a half with the success we've had. There's been more fans coming to the games. People are really getting into it. Seems like with this city, if you put a good sports team together, they're going to follow and they're going to be loud. In our building, I mean, if you've ever been there, the atmosphere is incredible, especially during playoffs. I think we're just getting excited here for the building come playoffs. But the fans have been a big part of our success, for sure.
Q. I was just wondering if you are where you want to be defensively, and what you would like to improve with respect to your defensive skills?
MIKE GREEN: Well, I wouldn't say I'm where I want to be. I really took it upon myself this year to be better defensively and complete the game. But, you know, there's still areas that ?? I mean, I'm still young and learning. There's still things that I have to develop.
Q. What are they?
MIKE GREEN: I think just positioning. At times, because I'm offensive?minded, I catch myself out of position and then it's making it tough on me to skate all over the ice to get back into position. I think over last year from this year I've kind of found a balance of when to jump up into the play and when not to. It's a lot easier on my body and my conditioning than it has been in the past. Just positioning. I mean I'm not 6'5", so I don't run out there and hit guys or whatnot. I have to make sure I'm in good position.
Q. You've got some really strong offensive instincts. Did you have play forward as a kid?
MIKE GREEN: No, I played a couple games when I was young, but I never really liked it. I always loved defending and then getting the puck and carrying it up the ice. I had to make a decision when I was young. People were trying to get me to play forward, but I was always a defenseman.
Q. Who was your favorite player growing up?
MIKE GREEN: Well, I would say my favorite player growing up was Scott Niedermayer, and Al MacIinnis. But before them it was obviously Paul Coffey.
Q. So now that you've broken the 25-year-old record, what's it like for you to be mentioned in the same breath as some of those players?
MIKE GREEN: Well, I mean, it's an honor to be mentioned in the same category as them. It's great. You know, obviously they're incredible players and paved the way for a player like myself. But, you know, I'm just early in my career. Those guys did it for years. So until I do it for years and retire, then I can say that I'm happy to be where they are.
Q. And one last one: How much does it help your offensive game having a guy like Ovechkin out on the ice with you? Does he attract a lot more attention to give you the open space?
MIKE GREEN: Oh, yeah, bigtime. I mean, especially with that power?play. He's so dangerous. If he gets shot in close, then he's going to score. To take him away is a smart thing to do. But it also leaves somebody else open. A lot of times it's me coming backdoor or whatnot. I would cover him over me, for sure.
Q. How important was it for you to have your dad in attendance when you broke the record?
MIKE GREEN: Well, you know, a lot of people ask me, How did it feel and this and that. The greatest part of it was that my dad was there. You know, I got a chance here yesterday to see his reaction when it happened, and I think that was the greatest satisfaction that I could have what.
Q. Yesterday Pierre McGuire named you in the squad to represent Canada in Vancouver. How does that make you feel to be named as one the of the top 7 Canadian defensemen?
MIKE GREEN: Well, I mean, that's great that I'm considered and whatnot, but it hasn't happened yet. Until it does happen, then I'll be satisfied.
Q. Going back the record, when did you realize you were getting close to breaking that record?
MIKE GREEN: It was a couple days before New York. The media brought it to my attention. I really had no idea. I think it was, yeah, the game after I scored ?? I forget who we played, but a game after we scored, and then when we went on the road to New York and I was aware of it.
Q. I want to touch on the team's injuries. You were on the IR for a while. Are you fully recovered heading into the last 25 games or so of the season?
MIKE GREEN: Yeah, I am finally fully recovered. It took me a while to get back to a hundred percent. Over the last 10 to 12 games I felt back to a hundred percent, which is good. Hopefully, knock on wood, I don't get injured throughout the rest of the season.
Q. I know you don't want to talk about the Olympic Canadian team, but just looking at the pool that could be on that roster and look at some of the characters there and what you think of the depth of talent at the defensive position.
MIKE GREEN: Yeah, I mean, Canada puts together a great team every year. I mean, the defense core is always their strongest point. I think if you look at the defensemen that are going to be on that team, it's hard to say there's any spots open. But, you know, if I do end up getting a chance, it would definitely be an honor to play with some of those top players throughout the league.
Q. Tomorrow night you play Montreal, who have just made a trade for Mathieu Schneider. What are your feelings about playing him?
MIKE GREEN: Well, you know, we always get up to play Montreal. They're such a skilled team, and they play almost a lot like us: very offensive. It always makes a good game. In the past we've struggled against them. I think that's why we take it upon ourselves to step up to the challenge and make sure we're ready for those guys.
Q. I wanted to ask you, how much did last season's run to the playoffs and the experience of losing in the first round help fuel this year's run?
MIKE GREEN: Can you say that again?
Q. Yeah. How much did the race to the playoffs, the last week and getting the experience of the first?round loss to Philadelphia, how much did that fueled you guys to race for the top this year?
MIKE GREEN: Well, that was a lot of our first time as individuals playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs. We really made that push into the playoffs, that I think almost tired us out. It's like we were playing desperation hockey for the last three weeks of the season, and I know, including myself, I was a bit tired mentally. Maybe that was the cause of our slow start in the playoffs. But we're definitely a year older and wiser, and this year maybe not having to fight for that spot. We'll be ready to go, and hopefully we can go far.
Q. It's kind a become cliche that a playoff loss can really teach a team and set them up to go further next time. Do you feel that's really building with you guys now?
MIKE GREEN: Absolutely. We all know what it's like to lose now in playoffs, and how quick your season can come to an end. This year we don't want that to be the case, and we are going to do anything we can to make sure we're in the finals.
Q. There are obviously different trends that come and go over the years in NHL. Since the lockout, it's been more about speed and skill. Are you considering yourself a new type of defenseman being almost like a rover?
MIKE GREEN: What's a rover?
Q. I guess almost like a defenseman who's not quite as gun-shy as people are traditionally taught about joining the rush or playing a specific role on the power-play. I guess just more willing to get up and play in the offensive zone.
MIKE GREEN: Okay.
Q. You look at younger players who have talked about you being a role model for them. Do you consider yourself a different time of defenseman in any way? Is there anyone that's tried to teach you not to play the way that you play now in the NHL?
MIKE GREEN: Well, I think traditionally, you know, as a defenseman, your job is to defend. You leave it up to the forwards to score the goals. But, you know, from our experience, adding that extra defenseman up the ice creates problems for the other team. We've been pretty successful with it. But, you know, I don't see why, as long as you're smart about it and in position to get back and not get caught, then it shouldn't be a problem. What was the other questions?
Q. If there's anyone in your past that's ever tried to steer you away from the way that you play.
MIKE GREEN: Yeah, my first couple years pro with the Capitals. Not in Hershey but up here. Definitely tried to stray me away from playing offensively or even trying to create any type of plays. As an offensive?minded guy it really limited me to what I could do, and therefore I wasn't very effective. Now with the free range that I have with Bruce, you know, you can really utilize your skills.
Q. Do you think it's something specific with the way your team plays that allows your style to be successful, or is this something that other teams could employ more than they already do?
MIKE GREEN: Well, it always depends how the team plays. If you got players like we do, as far as Ovechkin and Semin and Backstrom ? and I could go on and on ? that can pass the puck and shoot and create a lot of offense, then I don't say why not to add an extra defenseman into the play. These guys can put pucks on the tape and create chances. If you have a team that's very reserved and doesn't like to create a lot of plays, hard?nosed dump and chase, then I don't really think you need a defenseman to jump up into the play.
Q. I'm glad you mentioned Bruce, because a year ago when Bruce came up, there was a lot of focus on his long road to get there, and also his candor and a bright new look to the Capitals. Now you've gone through hat whole season and there seems to be less focus on him. Could you talk to us about his coaching performance this year. Obviously you're a first-place club, so can you give us another insight on Bruce in his second year.
MIKE GREEN: Yeah, I mean, obviously when Bruce came here our team became a completely different team, and he was the reason why. It's not like we changed any players. We just got a new coach. We had a bit of guidance that led us to be successful. But, you know, if Bruce would have been here from the start, last year, we would have been where we are now. I think just the difference between this year and last year is that we had a full season to get our points, and that's why we're up there. I've known Bruce now for three, four years, and, you know, he's one of the best coaches I've ever been coached by. It's hard to say I'll ever have a better coach than him, so...