blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: Josh Green Interview - Örnsköldsvik, SWE

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Josh Green Interview - Örnsköldsvik, SWE

From Medicine Hat to Övik, Josh Green's pursuit of professional puck has made him a Tiger, Bronco, Winter Hawk, Canadien, King, Falcon, Lock Monster, Islander, Bulldog, Oiler, Ranger, Capital, Flame, Moose, Canuck, Red Bull, Chop, Duck, and a Modo. Skating with 19 teams in five leagues (WHL:3, AHL:6, NHL:8, EBEL:1, SEL:1) over 16 years, few have moved more.

We spoke with Josh last August after he and teammate Tomáš Mojžíš emptied the lunch buffet at Swedbank Arena to discuss his training, travels, and time in Vancouver. These are his stories.

Q: Tell me about the practice this morning.
A: I think it was your typical after a game practice. Nice and light. Little over an hour but it was a good pace. I notice here it’s a little bit different than back home. There’s more skating, passing, and puck control as opposed to grinding it out. You know, like skating lines and stuff like that. So it’s a little bit easier. It’s not as much stopping and starting over here, which I like. So it wasn’t too bad.

Q: What did you do this summer to prepare for the season?
A: I trained at Focus Fitness. It's a gym in Winnipeg started by Glenn Carnegie. Glenn and his partner Jeff Wood used to be the strength and conditioning coaches for the Manitoba Moose. Glenn actually got hired by the Canucks to be an assistant to Roger Takahashi who is the strength guy there.

So the gym is state of the art. They have nets set up and a skating treadmill, it’s like a skating ramp. Half of it is all of that stuff and the other half is all the weights and bikes. You get a lot of kids in there too doing dry land stuff like stick handling and shooting but that’s available to us as well. Travis Zajac, Jonathan Toews, Nigel Dawes, Nolan Baumgartner, and Jason Jaffray train there. A lot of the guys who played for the Moose and still live in Winnipeg also train there too.

Q: How does Focus Fitness compare to your training days with T.R. Goodman at Pro Camp Sports?
A: There’s some similarities. Gold’s Gym in Venice is huge and you have the celebrities in there. You have other people working out around you. At Focus Fitness it’s just your hockey guys so it’s different that way.

Q: Let’s get right into your travels. It’s been an amazing journey. I have you at 19 different teams in five leagues over 16 years.
A: Yeah

Q: Does that sound right?
A: I have no idea.

Q: Is it still fun or is it becoming a job?
A: No, it’s still fun. I would have packed it in a long time ago if it wasn’t fun. Obviously I could do without the travel and changing teams and stuff. But that‘s why we play the game, to get out there and play. If it means switching teams and coming across the ocean then that’s what I got to do.

I enjoyed it in North America but I enjoy it over here too. It’s a different game. It’s a little easier on my body. It doesn’t mean I change my game at all over here it’s just a little bit easier as far as the travel goes. You know, you’re in your own bed every night. You don’t get banged up as much as you do in North America.

Q: What are the differences between the leagues in which you’ve played?
A: Travel is definitely the biggest thing. You’re busing a little bit more here than maybe you would over there but you’re in your own bed every night pretty much. You travel to the game and you come back. You play twice or maybe three times a week so the schedule is a lot easier.

The ice is bigger so it’s different game. It’s not as physical because it’s tougher to hit guys since they have all that ice to avoid you. There’s some similarities but a lot of differences. But what it comes down to is it’s still hockey. It’s the same premise.

Q: You played more games for the Vancouver Canucks organization than any other. Tell me about your memories from that era.
A: My first year with the Moose was a lockout year so there was no NHL that year. So it was nice in that everyone knew we were going to be there all year. There wasn’t guys going up and down, it was just that group. We won two rounds in the playoffs and had a little bit of a run there. It was a pretty special time. That was a fun year.

Then the next year was up and down for me. The Canucks were up against the salary cap that year so to save money I was coming back to Manitoba a lot. I think I ended up coming back eight or nines times. Just for the day and then right back up just to save money. So that was a little bit of a trying year.

Actually one of the times I played in Vancouver they said OK we’re just going to send you down for the day, you’re going to play one game down there, and we’re going to call you right back up. I played the one game down in Manitoba, got in a fight, broke my hand, and was out six weeks. That was one of the most frustrating things that’s ever happened to me in my NHL career. Knowing I was going back up and I couldn’t because I hurt myself.

Q: Who were you fighting?
A: I don’t even know. I think we were playing Rochester. I shouldn’t have got involved but that’s hockey. The year after that I was up in Vancouver the whole year. We got Luongo that year. We ended up beating Dallas in seven games in the first round of the playoffs and then losing to Anaheim who eventually won the Cup. That was pretty neat. That was probably the best team that I’ve ever been on as far as talent and the chance to go all the way.

Q: Did you get to know Näslund and the Sedins in Vancouver?
A: Yeah, I got to know them pretty well. It’s amazing that they’re all from the same little town and all playing for the same team in Vancouver. They’re all great guys. Swedes are great people. I’ve never met a bad Swede in all my travels playing.

Q: Tell me about playing with Mike Keane in Manitoba.
A: Yeah. He doesn’t play for much money down there I don’t think so that just goes to show you how much he loves the game. He puts in the time in the summer too. He’s one of the hardest working guys in the gym. He’s always on the treadmill running. When the season comes around he’s always in the gym, always keeping his body in condition. It’s great to see. I know I learned a lot from watching a guy like that.

Q: Does Mike Keane join your training group at Focus Fitness?
A: He just trains on his own I think during the summer. He skates with us and then sometimes comes in and runs on the treadmill or does something, but he’s not there on a week-to-week basis.

Q: Was he a vocal presence in the locker room?
A: Oh yeah, very vocal, very loud in room. But the guys love him.

Q: Who were the vocal guys on the Canucks when you were there?
A: Trevor was probably the most vocal in the room. Willie Mitchell. We actually had a pretty quiet team. Näslund would speak once in a while but not a lot. Mattias Öhlund would speak a little bit. We had a lot of Europeans and I think sometimes they get shy about the language. So they don’t want to say too much in case they say the wrong thing. And then guys like Kesler and Burrows. They were young guys at the time, I think it was their first or second year. They started to become leaders in the room that year and started to talk quite a bit.

Q: Were you able to tell the Sedins apart?
A: Yeah. I can tell then apart now.

Q: How?
A: Their personality more than anything. I think Daniel is a little more shy than Henrik. Daniel keeps his hair a little bit shorter. Yeah, there’s a couple of little things. But I can tell right away now.

Q: Does Henrik act like the older brother?
A: No. I couldn’t even have told you who was older.

Q: I was watching the Sedins practice with Forsberg and Hedman this morning and one of them seems be a lot more animated celebrating goals in drills and gasping when he’s stopped.
A: That’s Henrik. Daniel is a little bit more reserved, a little more shy. Henrik likes to joke around.

Q: Why did you decide to come to the Swedish Elite League?
A: I wanted to come back and try to give it another shot in Anaheim. It was a frustrating year. I only got one exhibition game out of training camp and then I was sent down. I started the year alright and then ended up breaking my leg and missing the rest of the season. I ended up getting back for five playoff games. It was just a frustrating year. Kind of typical of the way my career has gone. You know, one of those years. And I just had enough.

I thought about maybe staying one more year but the money wasn’t right. The past two or three years I’ve gotten hurt every year in North America and the one year that I played over here I was injury free the whole year. So that kind of played a part too. And obviously you know the money is good over here too. It’s tax free and they set you up with a car and an apartment. You know, it’s really good.

Q: What’s the reputation of the SEL compared to other leagues?
A: I think it’s right up there. I think it’s a well-respected league. It’s tough to score in. You look at the leading scorers every year in the SEL and they’re right around a point a game as opposed to some other leagues where they’re way over a point a game. So it’s a pretty defensive league. There’s a lot of good players. A lot of skill here.

Q: Have you talked to the coach about what your role will be?
A: No. Not yet. We haven’t gotten into that at all. I’m hoping that I can play a large part. Play some special teams and play a lot of minutes.

Q: What’s your career goal going forward?
A: I don’t know. I just try and take it one year at a time. I’d like to stick around somewhere for a few years just to finish my career in one spot. You know, you meet people but you don’t really build any meaningful or long lasting relationships when you keep moving on year to year. So I’d like to finish my career in one spot and hopefully play until I’m in my late 30s. I’m hoping. So a few more years to go but I don’t want to bounce around like I have been.

Q: Do you have aspirations in hockey beyond playing?
A: I’ve thought about it. I don’t know. I’m kind of just sick of the travel. When you get into coaching and stuff it’s the same. You know, you’re traveling all the time. I’d like to stay at home and have a family. If I do coach maybe I’ll coach my kid’s team. Obviously you need to do something after hockey to pay the bills. I haven’t found that thing I’m going to do after hockey but hopefully it will come up.

Q: What do you do for fun when you’re not training or playing?
A: I like to play golf. I play a lot in the summer. That’s been cut down quite a bit. I just got married last summer. I golf less and less every year now but I try to get out as much as I can.

Q: Did you ever take up surfing when you were living in California?
A: Nope. Never tried it.

Q: Is Winnipeg home for you now?
A: Yeah, that’s my home in the summer.

Many thanks to Josh for speaking with us. Best of luck this season.