AUDIO: Story includes audio of media interviews with Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Greene and head coach Darryl Sutter.
EL SEGUNDO, CA — Whenever the Los Angeles Kings hit a cold streak, and they’re trying to figure out what their problems are, one player you can count on to accept responsibility and look only at himself is veteran defenseman and alternate captain Matt Greene.
In those instances, Greene will usually say something like he did on January 3: “You can only speak for yourself…I can’t talk for anybody else in this room. I can only talk for myself, and I have to get back to [playing well] to help our team.”
Fast forward to the present: Greene has been a healthy scratch for the last three games—he has not dressed since January 2 at St. Louis, an embarrassing 5-0 blowout loss, the culmination of a disastrous road swing in which the Kings lost all four games.
During that stretch, Greene was held off the scoresheet, which is not unexpected. However, he also earned a -3 plus/minus rating, and racked up eight penalty minutes, including a high sticking double minor early in the first period during that previously mentioned game at St. Louis.
The Blues scored on the ensuing power play, and they never looked back.
Head coach Darryl Sutter noted that Greene’s play during the last road trip was the reason for him being a healthy scratch, and that he had no plans for him to return to the lineup soon.
“No, [ice time] is based on performance,” said Sutter. “We’re not into what you did. We’re into what you’re doing.”
“We’d been on a trip, and we didn’t have much to show for it…and Greene played every game,” added Sutter. “At the end of the day, when you make changes, you generally make changes in your sixth defenseman, and your fourth line. The game before, [Greene] was the sixth defenseman, and he went out. Last night, Jordan Nolan went out.”
“That’s what good coaches do, that’s what good teams do.”
Greene indicated that he has no physical ailments that are slowing him down.
“I’m 100%,” said Greene. “I’m ready to go. I’ve just got to be ready when called upon.”
So what’s the problem? I’m sure you can guess where Greene pointed to.
“If you’re not playing, you’re obviously not doing something right,” said Greene. “I’ve got to get my game back, and going.”
The consummate team guy, Greene has not pouted.
“It’s all good,” he said. “You always want to play, but we’re winning games right now, and we’re having success. That’s all you can ask for.”
“Guys who are in the lineup are there for a reason,” he added. “They’re winning games, and they’re playing well. First and foremost, I’m part of this team. I want to see us win, and we’re doing that right now, so it’s good times.”
Regardless of Greene’s attitude, Sutter, who appeared to be very interested in sending messages to his players via the media after the team’s optional skate on January 10, said about Greene not playing, “That’s too bad. I’m not into feeling sorry for guys because they’ve been around a long time. I’m into how they play. Very simple. They either accept it or they don’t.”
Upon being told that Greene expressed a positive attitude about his situation, Sutter replied, “He’d better. The one thing I don’t accept is anyone with a bad attitude, in terms of work ethic, attitude, or how they’re received by teammates. That’s why we’re a good team.”
Speaking of teammates, taking Greene’s spot in the lineup has been left-shot, offensive defenseman Alec Martinez, who has played well.
As one should expect, Greene supported his teammate, 100 percent.
“Coming over and playing his off side—it’s not easy to do,” Greene said about Martinez. “He’s done a really seamless transition, and I’m happy for him. I think everybody’s happy for him.”
“He’s doing a lot of really good things, and he’s showing the player that he really is,” Greene added. “It’s awesome to see him [have] success.”
After all that, Greene does not appear to be discouraged.
“I’m going to get another chance,” he noted. “It’s a long season. You’ve just got to take advantage when you get that chance.”
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