It’s been quite some time since the Washington Capitals were the free-wheeling, high-scoring machine that once stacked up goals, division titles and serious blame in huge quantities.
Still, for some, Mike Green’s inevitable departure feels like the true end of an era.
The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg explores that feeling, as he looks back on the “Young Guns” group that featured Green, Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom.
While Ovechkin was the biggest star of the four, Green embodied the spirit of that movement in some ways:
Green was the only native English speaker of the Young Guns, the tattooed, spiky-haired skateboard-loving icon who was pals with Ryan Zimmerman and Chris Cooley, and was mildly popular in certain teenage sets. His offensive peak was absurd: In Washington’s first three modern playoff seasons, he averaged an outrageous .91 points per game. And even if he became a seldom-mentioned third-pair defenseman at the end of his tenure, he remained synonymous with some of the most explosive teams Washington had ever seen.
In case you’re fuzzy on the hype they once produced, check out this video, which feels ancient even it surfaced in 2008:
With injuries and a declining role over the years, there were times that Green felt like a shell of himself, even as he quietly proved effective in the eyes of many. To some, his exit is overdue, yet plenty of Capitals fans will sigh wistfully as they watch Green skate around in Red Wings red.