On Wednesday, free agent defenseman Andy Greene signed a one-day contract with the New Jersey Devils as he announced his retirement from the NHL after a 17-year career.
The 39-year-old Andy Greene will be remembered for his time in New Jersey as he spent the good part of 14 years in the garden state before playing the final two-plus years with the New York Islanders.
When the New York Islanders traded for Andy Greene back in February of 2020, they were in dire need of a stay-at-home defenseman who could bring a calm presence to the backend, with Adam Pelech out for the rest of the year and a young Noah Dobson struggling to be effective on a game-to-game basis.
New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello was at the helm in New Jersey when Greene was signed to an entry-level contract back in 2005 after four years at the University of Miami (Ohio) and knew what Greene brought to the table and how he could help the Islanders down the stretch.
University of Miami head coach Chris Bergeron, who served as the assistant coach at the University of Miami when Andy Greene joined their program, was asked on Wednesday about Andy Greene.
“One of the first big-time recruits…in my time as an assistant. I remember being on the phone with Andy’s mom and his dad and obviously the boy, and now I look back in October of 2022, he’s got 1,000 games under his belt. He’s got a family with young kids. And he’s just starting his kind of life after hockey. That’s a proud moment,” Bergeron said.
“And I speak on behalf of anybody who knows Andy within the Miami hockey program or not, but he’s such a fantastic human being. And we wish him nothing but the best in his retirement. I’m sure, it was a bittersweet day for him. I talked to him this summer about the decision he knew was coming. And he was on the fence with it, as you can imagine.”
“Obviously, he’s made that decision now. I’m sure his family was a big part of it. But we’re just so proud of him, and what a great career. Hopefully, he can sit back and celebrate a little bit because he deserves it.”
With Adam Pelech returning from his Achilles injury in time for the playoffs and more trust in the young Noah Dobson, Andy Greene found himself as a healthy scratch when the 2020 postseason qualifying round began against the Florida Panthers.
But after veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk was blindsided by then Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson in Game 1, Andy Greene was called about to jump into the lineup.
He would play in 22 of the 23 playoff games as the New York Islanders lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning after a five-game Eastern Conference Finals duel, notching two goals and two assists.
Greene’s two goals came against the Philadelphia Flyers, the bigger of the two giving the Islanders a 2-0 lead over Philadelphia in a critical Game 7.
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) October 12, 2022
The Islanders eventually won the game 4-0 to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1993.
The following season, with Boychuk unable to continue his NHL career, Greene was paired with Noah Dobson, serving as another mentor for the young defenseman. Although the point totals were not overly high, that steady presence for Dobson and the rest of the team was critical in the team’s overall success, despite falling short of the Stanley Cup Finals yet again.
Last season, Andy Greene struggled to bring that consistent game. The speed and skill of the NHL seemed to be a little too much for the 39-year-old, but there’s no question that he gave it his all each night.
There comes a time when it’s time to hang up the skates, and when we talked with Greene at the end of last season, he made it seem like he would either be back with New York or retire.
He chose the latter.
“Huge impact on the ice. Obviously, one of the most intelligent defensemen that I’ve seen play the game,” head coach Lane Lambert shared about Andy Greene and his time on Long Island. “His thought process was just at another level, [he was] a tremendous penalty killer.”
“But I think even more importantly for our team was his off-ice [role], you know, his leadership and his mentorship towards younger players. So, just fantastic. A fantastic human being.”
I remember New York Islanders forward Mat Barzal sharing during one of the media availabilities last season that he wished Greene was his age because that would have been a lot of fun. They seemed to have a great friendship despite the age gap, something that Barzal spoke about on Wednesday.
“One of the best. Honestly, so much love for Greenie. I think every guy in this room would say the same thing. He’s just an amazing person, and his demeanor, his sense of humor, his leadership, and just his energy was great to have around the locker room for a couple of years and definitely, [will] definitely be someone that I keep up with, you know, here and there for a long time.”
“We had a lot of fun together. Being in the bubble going on those runs. We had some awesome times together. I think that those times are ones that we’ll never forget and always laugh and always have stories [to tell]. And genuinely, I know he’s probably got almost 15 years on me almost, but I feel like he’s like an older brother to me, and just honestly so much love for him.”
Andy Greene played 1,057 games at the NHL level. He finished his career with 52 goals and 212 assists in his regular-season career. In 90 career postseason games, Greene scored five goals with nine assists, with two trips to the semi-finals with the New York Islanders (2020, 2021) and one trip to the Stanley Cup Finals with the New Jersey Devils back in 2012.