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Can a sports psychologist help the Caps?


When Mike Green called a solo press conference last spring to discuss his team's early playoff loss, he mentioned how his mind was trying to process the need to be better defensively while still contributing on offense.

"When that gets into your head, you tend to not do the right things at the right times," he said. Which prompted someone to drop this in the comments section:

"What this team needs is an AWESOME sports psychologist!"

Whether that anonymous Internet commenter was joking or not, Green went there.

"You know what, as a professional athlete you have to deal with these things," he told NBC Washington's Lindsay Czarniak this week, when asked about his mental state. "You want to win so bad, and the Stanley Cup, growing up in Canada, is one of the greatest things you can win, especially in my industry, what I do. But you have to get over that and move on, and I'm at a good state right now. I've worked on myself over the summer and talked with a psychologist, a sports psychologist about how to prepare myself to play in the playoffs. I'm ready to go. So I'm a confident player right now."

In his final address last year, Green shared the thoughts of many in the organization, that you couldn't blame the playoff exit on team's system or the style of play.

"It's funny, there's all of this talk about, "Is it our system?'" he said then. "The whole season, the question is whether we [could] be a defensive team. Then we get in the playoffs, and it's now it's about, 'Can we score goals?' when we scored the most goals in the league."

And now, Green -- like many of his teammates -- is subtly changing the message, again via NBC Washington:

"You need to prepare yourself to play the way you're gonna play in the playoffs all season," he said. "I think at times maybe we were winning hockey games, but we were kind of a little bit sloppy. And that's our fault as players, because we're the ones that are out there, we're responsible for ourselves. But if everyone can buy in here quick and become a consistent team on a nightly basis and play our way whether we win or lose, I think that's more important than being a run-and-gun kind of team."

(Via On Frozen Blog and Japers)

By Dan Steinberg  | October 7, 2010; 9:43 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Comments

First! That is he'll be up for the Norris Trophy in on time and the CAPS are going to raise the Stanley Cup.

Posted by: RuskiSi | October 7, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Why hasn't he been traded yet?

Posted by: MACCHAMPS04 | October 7, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I think one more year to prove himself in the playoffs, or ship him. He is a symptom of what has gone wrong for us in the playoffs, choking. He is young though, and like all the capitals - under-achieving so far in the playoffs. But, maybe this is the year they relax and play in the post-season. One more year Greener...that's your leash.

Posted by: gs12 | October 7, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

You people calling for a Green trade must not know much about hockey. Great defensive players don't just appear from thin air. It takes time for them to develop. Green is obviously still developing into a more reliable player, but that doesn't mean he lacks the ability to shut down opponents. Not to mention, he is told to push up and play offense. That's his biggest strength and very few defensive players posses comparable skill in that department.

Plus, could you ask for a better mentor for Carlson - another offensive minded defender who might one day quarterback the PP.

Sure he hasn't stepped it up in the playoffs yet, but there are countless all-star caliber players who can inexplicably disappear for a series. Pronger anyone?

Green will be a Cap for a loooong time. Get used to it.

Posted by: MillBurray | October 7, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

The 2010 team is more talented than 2009.

It's better balanced between offense and defense.

And a number of players whose performance in the playoffs has been questionable were released or left town as free agents.

The one potential negative is that the new talent is young and inexperienced.

Neuvirth, Carlson and Alzner make the Caps a better defensive team.

Who can argue this is not a talent upgrade (and perhaps a psychological one) over the trio of Jose Theodore, Shaone Morrisonn, and Brian Pothier?

One thing that hurt the Caps the past 2 years was that Theodore was the #1 goalie during the regular season and then suffered a meltdown immediately in the playoffs.

When you have a guy post a 30-7-7 record during the season and then not be able to handle playing his old team in what should be a revenge match for him, that creates a problem for the team.

With most veterans, a chance to eliminate the team that traded you away is one that they cash in.

They usually don't fall apart and force their teams to start their backups.

Mike Green is going to play better in 2010 because he is going to log fewer minutes of ice time.

The addition of John Carlson in my mind is going to change the established pecking order on the blue line.

Carlson is quite effective on the power play and is more physical than Green in the defensive zone.

At times this year you may not see Green out there in the 3rd period with a couple of minutes left to kill to seal a win.

In the past Green was on the ice for everything - all the power plays, penalty kills, 5 on 5, etc.

He was simply logging too much ice time and as a result the mistakes of a tired hockey player were magnified.

Playing fewer minutes Green should be sharper and better able to avoid costly turnovers and stick penalties.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | October 7, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

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