18 October 2019 00:50
Rick Green never went a full NHL season without scoring a goal, but the former Canadiens defenceman came close a few times. During his six full seasons with the Canadiens, starting in 1982-83, Green scored only one goal three times. He didn't score during the 1983-84 season, but was limited to seven games due to injury. So Green could relate a bit to what Canadiens defenceman Victor Mete was going through heading into Thursday night's game against the Minnesota Wild. Mete had played 126 games in his NHL career and had yet to score a goal.
But Mete finally got his first at 14:37 of the first period and it was a nice one as he took a pass from Nick Cousins in the slot and beat Wild goalie Alex Stalock with a quick shot. "Of course, he's feeling that real pressure of trying to get his first NHL goal so he can get it put on a plaque," Green said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. "But it's obviously not that easy and then it starts to wear on you a little bit. It will come." It finally did only a few hours later. Green was the No. 1 overall pick by the Washington Capitals at the 1976 NHL Draft and played 15 seasons in the league, winning a Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1986.
In 845 career games, Green scored 43 goals and his single-season high was eight. Green's first NHL goal came during his rookie season with the Capitals in 1976-77 against Colorado Rockies goalie Michel Plasse. "I think I actually had a breakaway, if I remember correctly, and went down and did something with it, so it was kind of neat," Green recalled. "It wasn't really my specialty, so I didn't spend a lot of time celebrating. "I didn't take a lot of time worrying about scoring," he added. "I was preoccupied in just trying to shut down all the offensive guys. That was my thing that I liked to do and it worked out well for me. I used to always say if I score one goal, then the next year they'll want two. Keep the pressure off that way." Green's strengths at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds were his ability to win one-on-one battles, along with making smart decisions with the puck under pressure. He took pride in playing against the other team's top offensive players. The game has changed a lot since Green's playing days and he can't imagine a defensive-minded, shutdown defenceman like himself ever being a No. 1 overall draft pick again. "Not the way the game is going now," he said. "With the talent of some of these guys, they can do both things very well. They're really, really involved now in everything with the way that the game is played. They're a huge part of the offence and you've got to be able to skate and get involved, but there's still room for those guys who are very reliable defensively." Green lives in Baie d'Urfé and still follows the NHL and the Canadiens closely. He has been impressed by Mete's speed and ability to move the puck, along with his hockey smarts and how effective he can be defensively despite being only 5-foot-9 and 187 pounds. Mete's skating ability also allows him to get back in position quickly after rushing the puck, something Green rarely did. "My style of play was when I got to the red line or the opposition blue line, that was the line that I couldn't cross too often," he said. "Like one of those little doggies that has the line in the yard — you can't go across that. I didn't want to get into strange territory and not know what I was doing." Green, 63, was south of the border on Thursday, helping out the University of Southern Maine hockey coaches. His son, Michael, is a forward on the team. After retiring as a player, Green was an assistant coach with the New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings and the Canadiens. He has been out of the NHL since the Canadiens fired him and head coach Claude Julien midway through the 2005-06 season. Green remains friends with Julien, who is in his second stint behind the Canadiens' bench. After the Canadiens fired him, Green decided it was a good time in his life to step away from the game and focus on his family, which includes son Michael, 21, daughter Julia, 17, and his wife, Sylvie Desjardins. "I'm very fortunate that I had the time and took the time," he said. "I wouldn't trade it for anything." Green says he would listen if an NHL coaching position was available, but it would have to be the right fit. What would Green's advice to Mete have been to heading into Thursday night's game if he was still coaching? "Just try not to focus totally on that first goal," Green said. "There's other parts of the game that are a big part for him and scoring goals … you want to get that first one, but ultimately it's not the ultimate. It's going to happen." It happened. [email protected] twitter.com/StuCowan1 It's been a long time coming, but Canadiens defenceman Victor Mete finally has his first goal in the NHL. (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) The suspense was killing every fan of the Montreal Canadiens. In Thursday night's game against the Minnesota Wild, defenseman Victor Mete was able to score the first goal of his NHL career. It took 127 games in the league, but the moment finally came for the 21-year-old. The look on his face tells the whole story. Most of the time players are just hoping to get the first goal of the season over with, but to have already two seasons played and the player is still waiting for the very first one; it must have been agonizing. Since making his NHL debut in 2017, Mete has a total of 21 assists and has averaged just under 17 minutes a game during his time in Montreal. He broke a record previously held by Mike Komisarek for most amount of games without a goal since making their debut for the Canadiens. The former Montreal and Toronto defenseman took 123 games. Mete wasn't the only young Hab to make a career milestone in the game against the Wild. Rookie Nick Suzuki scored his first career goal as well, but it only took seven games for the 20-year-old forward to get his first. Nick Suzuki also scores his 1st! pic.twitter.com/W0LfxpRKGv — David St-Louis (@RinksideView) October 17, 2019 On the season, Mete has his goal and a single assist through the first seven games. More NHL coverage from Yahoo Sports Canada