Greene to play 1,000th NHL game when Islanders visit Lightning

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TAMPA — Andy Greene will play his 1,000th NHL game when the New York Islanders visit the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Monday (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, BSSUN, MSG+, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

The 39-year-old defenseman is in his 16th NHL season after signing with the New Jersey Devils as an undrafted free agent April 4, 2006, following four seasons with Miami (Ohio) University.

“It’s not something you’re thinking about as you’re starting your career,” Greene said. “When you first start off, you worry about your first game and how do you play your second? You kind of just figure it out from there and you just try to finally establish yourself. Once you do, you’re battling to stay in. That’s what I’ve tried to do throughout my whole career. Just try to scratch and claw and go from there and enjoy it along the way.”

Greene made his NHL debut with the Devils on Jan. 12, 2007, against the Atlanta Thrashers at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey, after starting that season with Lowell of the American Hockey League. He scored six points (one goal, five assists) in 23 regular-season games for the Devils and three points (two goals, one assist) in 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

“I just remember that nervous feeling, nervous energy,” Greene said. “I still get it a little bit before games, but not as much as back then. I remember the first shift, I stepped on the ice, the puck popped out to me at the blue line and I thought, ‘Man, what a great opportunity here.’ I threw a little wrister and it hit the goalie right in the chest.”

Greene played 14 seasons with the Devils before being traded to the Islanders on Feb. 16, 2020. His time in New Jersey included a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, when New Jersey lost to the Los Angeles Kings in six games. He has scored 255 points (50 goals, 205 assists) in the regular season and 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 90 postseason games.

Greene developed many friendships along the way, including forward Travis Zajac, and they were reunited when the Islanders acquired Zajac and forward Kyle Palmieri in a trade with New Jersey on April 7. The three helped New York reach the third round of the playoffs, where they lost to the Lightning in seven games.

Zajac announced his retirement Sept. 20 after 15 seasons.

“It’s amazing,” Zajac said of Greene’s milestone during a telephone interview with NHL.com. “I’m honestly so proud of him and what he’s accomplished. That’s a huge number. He’s a such a great player, such an underrated player in this league who’s never got a lot of the credit for what he does to make a team better. He does things the right way, he makes the game easy for players around him and you can put him in any type of situation — he’s going to succeed and he’s going to help the team.

“Great leader, great teammate, great friend and I’m happy to see him play that game.”

Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock said Greene’s presence has played an important role since the trade. Greene has scored nine points (one goal, eight assists) in 76 regular-season games and five points (two goals, three assists) in 40 postseason games with New York.

“It’s special,” Pulock said. “Not a lot of guys make 1,000 games in this league, and I think for him to, undrafted, grind it out and just be the ‘Steady Eddie’ that he’s been throughout his career, I think it’s a special night for him.

“He’s meant a lot to us. I think especially if you look at the back end on and off the ice, he’s just been so calming and just a guy you can rely on. Sometimes when things maybe aren’t going well, he’s kind of that steady voice to just calm things down. He’s been an important part over the last year-and-a-half, two years. I think the guys in the room are going to be really happy for him tonight and bring our best effort for him because it’s a special day, a special moment.”

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