Defenseman Matt Greene joining the Los Angeles Kings in 2008 it signaled a culture change as his gritty, hard-nosed style helped the Kings go from league laughing stock to a legitimate contender. Greene’s tenacity was especially apparent during this year’s Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers when he made the area in front of the Kings’ net a living hell for the Rangers’ forwards throughout the series.
With his contract about to expire, the Kings inked the defenseman to a four-year, $10 million deal that will keep the former University of North Dakota star in L.A. through 2018. The money, $2.5 million a year for a two-time Stanley Cup champion who brings a physical presence to complement the Kings’ skilled core, fits well for the team in terms of the salary cap. The $2.5 million is also less than he likely would have gotten on the open market, showing how much he buys into the system and wants to remain part of this establishment of winning. It also should indirectly send a message to fellow pending free agent Marian Gaborik that everyone is serious about winning to the point where money is left on the table.
The only issue I have with the deal is the years; four years for a 31-year-old who takes a physical beating every night as a result of his tenacious play is a little on the lengthy side. Having said that, the cap will surely rise every year during the deal, meaning the money could be less of factor than it even is now.
With Greene signed, the Kings will put on the full-court press to ink Gaborik to a deal before free agency begins in July. With such a key piece of the team’s championship puzzle back in the fold, the message sent to Gaborik is clear: “Take a little bit less, stay here and win here.”