NHL Going Green? League Needs Award for Offensively Gifted Defensemen

Jon Neely@@iamjonneelyAnalyst IFebruary 26, 2009

The National Hockey League defines the Norris Trophy winner as the "top defensive player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability in the position."

Previous multiple winners like Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, Dennis Potvin, Ray Bourque, and Nicklas Lidstrom all perfectly define what it is to be an outstanding all-around defensemen. Each with outstanding defensive capabilities while at the same time, have the ability to be a potent threat in the offensive zone. 

The Norris Trophy is a respected and sought after award, and rightly so.

But it's time we recognize the defensemen who never believed the saying "defense wins championships." It's time to honour the blue-liners who want goals baby, goals.

Mike Green is the prototypical offensive defenseman, with a little something extra we haven’t seen in a long time. To put it in better terms, the man is downright scary to opposing goalies.

As of this week Mike Green has 22 goals, tying him with known offensive snipers like Jason Spezza and Derek Roy. Trying to argue that both those players are struggling this year won't help you either. Green has played 48 games; Spezza and Roy have played 59 and 61 respectively.

He also leads all NHL defensemen in points with 52.

Defensive forwards have been awarded the Selke Trophy since the 1977 campaign, when Bob Gainey captured his first of four straight as a defense-first left winger.

So why is there no love shown to the blue liners who love to score?

Some may argue that the Norris Trophy essentially is the award for the best offensive defensemen in a season. This does in fact seem plausible, as almost all winners historically have been near or at the top of the scoring race as a defenseman; but the Norris is more than that.

If you look past all Nick Lidstrom's points from last season, would he still be considered as one of the best in the league, with incredible on-ice vision, awareness and leadership qualities that are second to none?

I think so. Not to mention he captained the Detroit Red Wings to a Stanley Cup last year. He shines in his own end, and is a major reason for Detroit's recent success.

Mike Green is not the best defenseman in the NHL, and he won't win the Norris Trophy.

Nor necessarily should he. 

But with the puck-handling skills he has and the earth shattering shots he can launch, setting fear in the minds of goalies league-wide, he certainly deserves some recognition.

After setting the record for consecutive games with a goal as a defenseman earlier this month, with eight, he has shown the entire league his offensive skill is no fluke.

He's the real deal.


While most defensemen are worried about knocking players on their seat, Mike Green is busy lifting fans out of theirs.

Who knows what they'd call this award. Maybe name it after one of the previous greats like Paul Coffey or Bobby Orr. Whatever the name, though, it is time the NHL gave this guy some much deserved respect with a nice shiny piece of hardware.

With Green scoring like he has been and the Capitals playing like they are, it might not be the only trophy he holds proud above his head this year.

Maybe then the NHL will realize the importance of defensemen like Mike Green.


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