OKLAHOMA CITY — His teammates have taken to calling him uncle on occasion, and there have been times the Oklahoma City Barons brat pack has expeditiously vetoed Josh Green’s locker room music choices.
But when Tuesday rolled around, those same players were not only singing his praises, they were all calling him captain.
Green was the players’ choice to wear the C this season while Jordan Eberle, Chris VandeVelde, Dane Byers and Alex Plante will be the Barons assistants.
“It was a no-brainer,” Magnus Paajarvi said of the team’s decision to select the 34-year-old journeyman.
The Camrose-raised winger has a pro resume that stretches from Los Angeles (the Kings drafted him in the second round of the 1996 draft) to Oklahoma City (where he’s about to enter his second season). In between, he’s made 15 stops.
Green has played for the New York Rangers, the Syracuse Crunch, Modo in the Swedish Elite League, the Iowa Chops, Calgary Flames, Manitoba Moose and the Edmonton Oilers from 2000-2003 and again in 2011-2012, so if it is experience the young Barons need, it is experience he can offer.
“He’s the hardest working guy on the ice. His work ethic is impeccable,” Barons head coach Todd Nelson said. “I think that’s where he’ll lead by example. Even in the shinny drills, he goes game speed.
“He’s not really a rah-rah guy, but when accountability has to be addressed, he’s not afraid to speak his mind. He holds guys accountable, and as a captain you have to do that from time to time.”
This past off-season, unable to get a two-way deal with the youth-infused Oilers, Green signed an AHL contract with the Barons.
“Anytime you can put the ‘C’ on and lead a team is a special feeling, but I don’t think anything is going to change for me,” said Green, who, for the first time in his career, will be wearing the ‘C’ for the season. He takes over for Bryan Helmer, who was not re-signed.
“I’m going to try and lead by example, let these kids run with it, just try not to get in their way,” the journeyman continued.
“It’s a unique situation with these guys coming down from the NHL and some guys trying to get to the NHL. It’s a nice mix, which should breed some good competition from within. Hopefully, we can put a good effort on the ice, win some games and have some fun.”
Green, who has been skating with Tyler Pitlick and Ryan Martindale, put up 37 points in 51 games last season and will again get some power-play time. He’ll also get some days off the practice ice, which he figures is a given because of his age.
Of the 25 players the Barons are carrying, 19 are 24 years old or younger.
“I heard I might not even play every day. Who knows? I did have a couple of maintenance days last year … and I’m sure the same thing will happen this year,” said Green. “But it’s nice to be around the young guys. It keeps me young too.”
Green not only played with assistant coach Rocky Thompson, they were roommates in their first year with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Gerry Fleming’s last year of pro was Green’s first.
“I haven’t look at this resume, but just in speaking to him, you can hear the experience,” Paajarvi said.
“It’s just the attitude he brings,” Martindale said. “He’s been in the game a long time, he’s played at a high level for a really long time, yet he’s always working hard at practice and in games.”