Mike Green has been the NHL’s top offensive defenseman the past two seasons. That alone probably would have been enough for him to secure a spot on 11 of the 12 teams that will participate at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Alas, Green was born in Canada, and he was left off his country’s Olympic roster Wednesday.
“I felt like I did everything I could, and I don’t have any regrets,” Green told reporters in San Jose, Calif. “It is what it is. They obviously had something different in mind, and I wish them the best.”
Hockey Canada named seven defensemen to a star-studded 23-man roster, and Green was not one of them. The Canadians and the Russians are the favorites to capture the gold medal in what is one of the most anticipated tournaments in the history of the sport.
People have been scrutinizing the potential members of Canada’s roster for more than a year, and Green was the most polarizing figure in the debate. His offensive abilities are unquestioned, but concerns about his two-way play are probably the reason Green was left off the team.
Green was considered close to a sure thing after last season, when he registered 31 goals and 73 points. But a poor postseason negatively affected public opinion about him. His work in his end has improved this season, but the stigma remains for some.
“I always feel like when things don’t go well or people have their own opinions of you strive to prove them wrong,” Green said. “I always play like that, so nothing is going to change.”
There were five defensemen who were probably locks for the team - Scott Niedermayer (who was named captain), Chris Pronger (an alternate captain), Dan Boyle, Shea Weber and Duncan Keith. That left two openings for several qualified candidates.
Hockey Canada chose Brent Seabrook, possibly because he and Keith have played so well together for Chicago, and 20-year-old Drew Doughty instead of Green and Calgary’s trio of Jay Bouwmeester, Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr.
Green leads all NHL defensemen this season with 38 points and is tied for the lead in goals with nine. He led all players at his position in goals each of the two previous seasons and in points last year. His 31 goals last season were the most by a defenseman in 16 years.
Should any of the defensemen on the roster be injured or otherwise unable to play in Vancouver, Bouwmeester or Green likely would get the nod.
“Hopefully if something like that happens I am still in their thoughts,” Green said. “I’ll continue to perform and make sure that I am doing my job that, if something does happen, I am ready to play.”