Right D

This is Connie Madigan. He’s a legendary figure (played Mad Dog Madison in Slap Shot) in hockey circles, and was an actual hockey player. About 20 years after he pulled out of Humboldt (born in Thunder, er, Port Arthur, he played for Humboldt in 54-55 in the SJHL) he actually played in the National Hockey League.

Madigan would probably have played 500 NHL games or more had the NHL expanded in 1960 instead of 1967. He was a quality defender in pro leagues 1959-74. He won the Hal Laycoe Award (for best WHL defender, this was the Western Hockey League that was a pro league, a hair below the AHL but with plenty of AHL level players) the year after Pat Stapleton won it. Stapleton took his offense to the show, Madigan stayed for another 7 years in Portland (that’s him in a Portland Buckaroo uniform with the 5 o’clock shadow and the hockey face).

I sometimes wonder if a Connie Madigan is currently in the AHL and wondering why the hell Edmonton doesn’t call him. Currently the Oilers resemble the French in WW2 (all of their cannons are pointed in one direction) in that puck moving defensemen with holes defensively seem to be playing alongside defensive defensemen with holes in their game defensively.

Nowhere is this more pronounced than Right defense. So far this pre-season, the following people have played or are about to play (gp in brackets) RD for the Oildrop:

  1. Steve Staios
  2. Dick Tarnstrom (2)
  3. Matt Greene (3)
  4. Mathieu Roy (2)
  5. Tom Gilbert (2)

The fact that Matt Greene is playing again may mean the Oilers are considering where he fits on the depth chart. He is (imo) in danger of being passed on the depth chart by both Roy and Gilbert, and would certainly have to be trailing Staios and Tarnstrom at this stage of the game.

That’s my opinion, but everything I’ve ever heard or read out of the Oilers organization is that Matt Greene is a big part of the future. His size/speed make him a somewhat unique player in terms of toolbox, but in actual fact the player has not progressed and is still taking “clutch and grab” penalties in a day and time when the league tolerates neither offense.

With the Oilers having very little room to carry any player who costs them games, it seems to me that Matt Greene is about to be traded.

It’s almost certain I am wrong.

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21 Responses to "Right D"

  1. Bank Shot says:

    Love the Slap Shot reference. Best movie ever. My uncle played minor pro for the Mohawk Valley Comets near Syracuse and ended up landing the role of Barclay Donaldson, Captain of the “Green Team”. He’s too fucking old to play hockey now though…

    As for Greene I think he is still getting a bad rap on the penalties because of the playoff run.

    Last season he played 1,141 ES minutes. He recorded 109 minutes in penalties. 9 majors. So 64 minutes in minors.

    Smith played 1,389 minutes 103 PIMS, 5 majors, 78 minutes in minors.

    Staios played 935 ES minutes. 97 PIMS, 2 fights, 87 minutes in minor penalties.

    It’s pretty arguable whether Greene has improved in any other aspects of his game (I think he has), but he has certainly brought the PIMS to an acceptable level compared to 05-06.

  2. James L. says:

    Very much dislike Greene, given his stalled progress.

    Trade him for picks and promote Gilbert, for the love of God.

  3. Devin says:

    It’s not so much the PIMs that bug me about Greene either. It’s the lack of defensive ability (which is supposed to be his forte.)

    I raised this question last year on this blog (I think on the Greene’s 100th GP post). Had Roy, who is younger than Greene, and possesses more offensive talent (look to AHL numbers), been given the 100 NHL GP instead of Greene, who would be the better player today? I can’t help but think it’s Roy. Greene has never been much better than useless in all facets of the game except those crowd-pleasing big hits. Roy is pretty “gritty” himself, though.

    I hope you’re right, LT. There has to be another NHL GM with as big a crush on Greene as Lowe clearly has. Why not put Greene together with Schremp (or similar prospect that someone might be in love with) and try to pick up a Stillman, Murray, or similar and a decent pick? That would only improve our roster now, and really not hurt our depth chart at all. People worry that Greene will become “the next Jason Smith”. Well, how about we sign him out of FA when he does instead of enduring 5 years of pain on the off chance he turns out?!

  4. IceDragoon says:


    Where was Jason Smith 9-10 years ago?

    How long did it take for him to become a contributing veteran?

    At approximately the same age, JS had played in 164 + 6 po games in four seasons with the Devils, followed by about two years with the Leafs before becoming an Oiler.

    Either the old boys see something that has them believing Greene will get it much younger than Smith; or they’re willing to live with his long term growing pains; or perhaps you should wager with some “Greene for Captain” groupie (heard one on Total Sports – lol) that he’s being pumped & dumped.

    To my eye Tarnstrom doesn’t look very comfortable on RD. He was on LD (with Greene & some Gilbert) for the first 2 days of TC, then paired with Pitkanen in the JMC and most of the Panthers game. (limited Grebeshkov)


  5. Devin says:

    Louise, I see no reason to “wait out” prospects at the NHL level anymore. When you can sign guys like Hejda for 1MM, why would you waste time on non-elite prospects? They’ll be UFA at 27 anyway. Might as well wait them out. I doubt Tanabe or Melichar would be a worse or more expensive option than Greene this year.

    I hope to heck you’re right about the pump and dump. I just… I just doubt it’s the case. This team’s asset management (read: grasp on reality) has been pretty scary the past while.

  6. Ribs says:

    I’ve never understood Lowe and company’s man-love for Greene. He has been taking stupid penalties since the day he arrived in Edmonton and no one seems to even care that he is still doing it to this day.
    The only thing he has improved on all this time is his skating, how is this even possible?

    I thought maybe they were keeping him around to have a big guy when the beat-down came for the Oil forwards with the loss of big Georges, but MacT challenged Winchester and Jacques to that task all of last year(and Stortini when he found out these guys aren’t fighters).

    You just have to wonder, why is this guy here?
    In my mind, Roy can do anything just as well or better than Greene can.

    If you want a seasoned defenseman, sign one. Don’t waste five years of everyones time by rattling that gad-damned spice shaker until it’s bone dry.

  7. Ribs says:

    I’m watching the game and Greene just took another dumb one… yay.

  8. Big T says:

    Bank Shot;

    You nailed it regarding Greene’s bad rap re: penealties. It sure looks like he takes a ton but he took less minors per minute played than either of Smith or Staios.

    His actual defence is still suspect and that is something that I can actually get behind people complaining about. But he’s clearly not taking as many penalties as he did in the cup run.

    Louise; Bang on re: not bothering to develope guys unless they have a high ceiling. Teams don’t control a players rights long enough to make it a good investment.


  9. Ribs says:

    Hoorah…another one.

  10. HBomb says:

    Interesting thing….Monday night, Greene and Hemsky were two of three guys wearing an “A” on their jersey (the other was Moreau, FTR).

    I don’t think he’s going anywhere myself. What Greene has in his “skillset” is something the Oilers lack.

    Good lord would it have been nice if the Oilers had put a full-court press on for Scott Hannan on July 1st and got him instead of Sheldon Souray…..

  11. Devin says:

    hbomb – they could still have Danil Markov (no worse than Hannan, really).

    What exactly is in Matt Greene’s “skillset” that the Oilers lack? (Besides taking a lot of holding penalties and getting scored on a bunch). There’s no pictures on the scorecard, as they say in golf. Or put another way – I doubt there’s a forward in the league that is afraid of Greene in the least.

  12. Dennis says:

    The problem with Greene is that, IMO, we’re not only wasting man-games on him, but we’re also wasting Gilbert’s UFA clock.

    I know that the Oilers currently have an imbalance when it comes to puck carriers and guys that can play behind their own blue but they shouldn’t retard Gilbert’s developement just because Greene MIGHT be able to be a player.

    It’s not like I’d throw him away for nothing but at this point I would not let Gilbert waste while we continue to wait on a Greene miracle. The guy can’t pass the puck, he has terrible footwork and he takes a lot of penalties that have nothing to do with negating scoring chances.

    I like Roy’s toughness and how he somehow manages to get his shots on net, which isn’t as easy as you’d think and can’t be replicated by just anyone, but I’d cut Roy and Greene loose, or at least try and pass the former through waivers, and rotate Grebs and Gilbert through the 6 hole.

  13. uni says:

    Roy isn’t a guy I’d cut loose at all if possible. But agreed on Greene, I mean I don’t have the hate on like most, but he’s clearly not top 6 right now based on what I saw of tonight’s game.

  14. Lowetide says:

    uni: He’s a tough guy to give up on because of the unusual power/speed combination. He’s a pretty damn good skater and he’s huge. That’s a terrific combination for a D even if he’s subpar with the puck.

    However, Greene hasn’t learned one damnn thing about the new rules and they’ve been around long enough that they’re not really even new rules.

    On a team like Calgary, fine. Let him learn the ropes even if it takes him 200 NHL games. But on this team?

    He needs to be better.

  15. Master Lok says:

    For all the guys who trumpet your Greene criticism – I don’t see the Oilers moving Greene at all. He will get better – I seem to recall most of the posters on your site ragging on Smid just a month ago – and lo and behold! Smid’s looking strong in training camp and the critics now look for another scapegoat to work on.

  16. Lowetide says:

    Master Lok: I think we all felt Smid had potential and showed flashes during his rookie season. He looks to have made a step forward, which is encouraging.

    As for Greene, he’s running in place and has been for a time.

    There’s nothing really to trumpet. Wish he were better.

  17. Rube Foster says:

    Are you kidding me?
    Mad Dog Madigan!
    Where do you come up with stuff?
    Absolute jewels…
    Oh man you just gotta love those guys from the original six era who were obviously very good hockey players but for what ever reason missed their window of opportunity and never quite got a full run in the show.
    I don’t think people today truly understand how daunting it was to crack an NHL line-up back in the original six days. From 1958 till the 1970 the Montreal Canadians had the trio of Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard and Ralph Backstrom playing center. Can you imagine the generation of talent that got stuck playing behind those guys?
    You can add Larry “The Rock” Zeidel, and probably even a guy like Don Cherry to the long list of very, very good “Jason Smith” type of defensemen who were never quite flashy enough or in the right place at the right the time to establish a career in the original six. I never saw those guys play but I’ve heard of their reputations and they always struck me as Ed Van Impe kind of guys. Expansion came to the NHL just in time for Evil Ed.
    Anyway, I’ve mentioned before that the Oiler scouts actually do a pretty good job of finding the European Connie Madigans(talk about an oxymoron!). I thought Jan Hejda was our best d-man for a stretch last year and I was surprised and disappointed that we didn’t resign him. Given the way the Oiler D is shaping up Hejda would certainly add some balance to our Maginot Line – nice the analogy LT.
    I actually like the permed one, Tricky Dick Tarnstrom as a player but what I don’t get is Dick at 2 million when we could’ve had Hedja for $1.1 mil? Souray and Hejda actually sound like a decent combination and one I’d be pretty comfortable with as our second pairing.
    Matt Greene is playing like he’s auditioning as the new candidate for the Poti, MAB, whipping boy job this year. He’s in for a rough ride with the fans if the coaching staff keep exposing him by pairing him with the Denis Andre Grebeshkov’s of the world.
    The punchline Lowtide is that if today was 1962, Matt Greene would be a young Connie Madigan.

  18. Black Dog says:

    r.f. – except madigan was actually pretty good

    Look, I wish Greene well, I do, but the question is whether his upside is a) higher then Gilbert’s and b) worth losing Roy over.

    If Greene is going to play top four minutes I’d rather see Gilbert play those minutes and Roy in the 6 hole. Some clown said the other day that people should lay off Greene because its preseason.

    Your man is taking two to three minors a night playing scrubs and teenagers – that worries me a lot.

  19. Rube Foster says:

    Chein Noir,

    Oui! Madigan est BON!

    I guess the point I was trying to make is that Madigan wasn’t bon enough when he was 24 to make it in the NHL. And I do agree with you, I’m not sure Greene is good enough at 24 to make it in the NHL either.
    I do think that much like Madigan, Greene will follow the “Jason Smith Arc” and be pretty good by the time he’s in his late 20′s.
    However, by that time we’ll surely have run him out of town and all the 20/20 hindsighters can claim they always loved him.
    All this chit chat makes me wish we hung on to Mad Dog Hejda, the Ed Van Impe of the Russian Super League.
    Question – Would you swap Greene for Hejda? It’ll never happen but at the risk of beating a dead black dog I still think Hejda would’ve be an ideal fit on our blueline.

  20. Dennis says:

    Speaking as one of the guys who really didn’t like Smid last season, my problem is that Ladislav Smid SHOULD NOT have been one of the crown jewels in the return for Pronger. I said that last July and I will continue to say that for a very long time. That being said, he didn’t get murdered playing top four min last year so we probably have something there. Not something that was worth jumping an early gun on the Pronger talks, mind you, but something that’s worth hanging onto more than a Matt Greene.

    Good point about Hejda over Tarnstrom, though. If the only reason why the Oilers are gonna keep giving Greene rope is that he’s a guy that does most of his work without the puck, then we could’ve gotten around that by bringing back Hejda who did a good job playing top min late last season. Then again, Souray’s complicated matters because it looked like our puckmovers would be JP, Tarnstrom and Smid but then it appears that the Oilers signed Souray because most other people wouldn’t take their money. And then you wind up with the imbalance in terms of puck movers and stoppers.

  21. K.D. says:

    Fans of the old WHL will NEVER forget Connie Madigan! BTW – many of the WHL stars had no interest in playing the NHL since they made more money in the WHL.

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