A little more than year ago, Luke Green’s season took an ugly turn on an innocent play.
It was an ordinary sequence in a game between rookies from the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames at the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, B.C. Green, who got tangled up with a Calgary player behind the play, felt his left shoulder pop out.
"I couldn’t really move my arm at the time," said the 20-year-old defenceman, Winnipeg’s third-round pick in the 2016 NHL draft, following an informal pre-training camp workout at Bell MTS Iceplex Wednesday afternoon.
"I knew it wasn’t good and it was the first real big injury I’ve had in my career. It was tough mentally at first. You train all summer and you get hurt right away. Once you get over the first few weeks, you’ve gotta rehab and your life goes on.
"Coming in this year, I feel fresher than ever."
The dislocated shoulder would require surgery at the end of September and he was unable to return to the ice until five months later.
But the season wasn’t a complete waste.
Green returned to help the Sherbrooke Phoenix qualify for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League post-season and win a playoff series before bowing out in the second round. He piled up five goals and 15 points in 14 regular-season games.
"I did get into some games and I did well, I thought," he said. "I made strides in my game and I contributed in a big way to my junior team."
Green has a solid hockey pedigree the Jets hope will translate well to the pro game.
His offensive skill set helped to make him the first-overall pick of the Saint John Sea Dogs in the 2014 QMJHL Midget Draft (his fraternal twin Matt went 22nd overall, also to the Sea Dogs) and he says he hasn’t lost a step, despite adding eight pounds (he’s up to 195) to his 6-1 frame.
He appears destined to spend the season with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, where he had a brief audition late in the 2016-17 season. He signed a three-year entry-level contract.
"The offensive part, the puck-moving part is what’s going to get me to the NHL," Green said.
"My speed and my quickness is probably my best asset, so I can’t lose that. I kept that offensive part but just tried to add that defensive element. I can be trusted to be out there."
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.
Updated on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at 9:28 PM CDT: Final version