What Todd Reirden could mean for Mike Green
Photo by Amanda Bowen of RRBG Photography
Since the departure of Alex Semin, Mike Green is the most divisive player among Caps fans. I’m a Green supporter. Yes, he has defensive lapses that are glaring and costly. Yes, his offensive production has dropped off significantly and injuries have mounted. But the Caps are a better team with Mike Green than without him. He’s a possession monster and his skating ability is top-notch. The Caps additions on the blue line this off-season have left Green’s role in question, including who will play the point on the power play.
A lot of things will go into Green’s level of success this year. Perhaps the most important change is that the new coaching staff, led by Barry Trotz, have already said they will move away from Adam Oates’ insistence that the Caps defenders not carry the puck. Allowing Green the ability to showcase his skating a bit more should help his production.
One facet that I wanted to look at is how the coaching changes could affect Green by looking at how other offensive defeseman have fared before and during their time under the guidance of Todd Reirdan, who replaces Calle Johannson in handling the coaching duties of the Caps defenseman. As I said, this is just one of many facets and by focusing on this one facet I am not suggesting that it exists in a vacuum. I’m also not suggesting that the difference in results below are simply because of a coaching change.
Todd Reirden joins the Caps coaching staff after being an assistant in Pittsburgh since 2010. In Pittsburgh, two of the supremely offensively-gifted defenders Reirden coached were Kris Letang and now Cap Matt Niskanen. Here’s how each of these players did, possession wise, before and with Reirden.
Both players saw a significant uptick in possession under Reirden. Yes, both of these guys also happened to enter their prime under Reirden, and these are overall possession numbers, not relative. But Reirden was the defensive coach during the time both players saw a significant uptick in their possession numbers. This can’t be ignored.
Enough about possession, how about production? This is 5-on-5 only.
Given the rise in possession shown in the first graph, the rise in production isn’t surprising. Both Niskanen and Letang saw a rise in production across the board under Reirden’s watch. In fact, both had a higher assists/60 with Reirden than points/60 before they were coached by him.
Simply because two offensive defenders entered their prime years under Reirden and improved their results drastically doesn’t mean that a 28 year old Mike Green is certain to have a return to glory because of the new coach in charge of the defense. But, it’s certainly not going to hurt. And allowing Green the freedom to use his skating ability and creativity is also not going to hurt. While I’m not expecting Green to return to his production levels from the Boudreau years, I do expect an uptick in his production this season.