Colin Greening was up and down between the AHL to the NHL all season, but finished strong with the Ottawa Senators and, all things considered, the St. John’s native was pleased his performance.
“I never expected to be called up after training camp,” admitted the 25-year-old left-winger who scored six goals and picked up seven assists in 24 games with Ottawa.
“I was actually more worried about staying in the AHL with Binghamton where I started on the fourth line. The furtherest thing from my mind at that point was playing in the NHL.”
During one of those call-ups, Greening found himself on a line with centre Jason Spezza and rookie Bobby Butler.
“I was as surprised as anyone, but I looked on it as a good opportunity,” noted Greening. “I could have been nervous and thought ‘Oh my God, don’t screw up,’ or take it as a great opportunity and fun and that’s the way I looked at it.”
Greening said he wasn’t sure what to expect at the NHL level, but he said it was during a game against Toronto Maple Leafs that he felt comfortable for the first time.
“I was being used a little more and had a few good shifts. That game felt like a stepping stone,” he noted.
Greening really seemed to find his niche when slotted alongside Spezza and Butler for about a dozen games late in the season.
“I thought I complimented those guys,” Greening said. “I’m good at getting the puck to a skilled guy like Spezza. It’s important to go into the corners and get the puck for him. If I can draw two guys to me and get a pass to him that helps his game. I feel it’s been a good relationship, although he might feel differently,” Greening said with a chuckle.
“I felt we had good chemistry together. I think I’m a good two-way player and while Spezza can play defence, he’s an explosive offensive player. He’s very good at reading plays and he knows there are times when he can leave the (defensive) zone early to get a better scoring chance.”
Greening doesn’t know if he is in the rebuilding Senators’ future, but he’d like to be.
“I hope so. We’ll find out in a month or two,” said Greening who is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1. “We’re currently in negotiations.”
“I have no idea where (the Senators) see me on their depth chart, or if l’m in their rebuilding plans, but I’d like to keep playing in Ottawa.”
“I was actually more worried about staying in the AHL with Binghamton where I started on the fourth line. The furtherest thing from my mind at that point was playing in the NHL.” - Colin Greening
Asked what he thought it would take for him to stay in the NHL, Greening said, “I think I’ve just got to keep up consistent play.
“I know that sounds a like a corny cliché, but when you play so many games, you need to be consistently good in the corners; someone who can be annoying for others to play against because you work hard. I need to bring that sort of tenacity and competitiveness to every game.”
If he’s sent back to the AHL next season, Greening said he’d deal with it and consider it a learning experience.
“There would be a reason for it and I’d have to accept it and keep working. If you take a healthy attitude, you’ll always get the best out of yourself,” he said.
“No sense in pointing fingers and getting down on yourself.
“There were a few times I was sent back (to Binghamton) and it may or may not have had anything to do with my play. You deal with it. (Senators management) were honest with me, They told me it was because someone else was coming off the injury list or they wanted me to get more game time in AHL, or simply because they didn’t have enough roster spots. They were good at communicating. I always knew where I stood. I didn’t know if I’d get called back up, but I certainly felt like I deserved to be.”
While Ottawa’s season is finished, Greening will be participating in the AHL playoffs.
Binghamton (fifth, East Division) opens its AHL Eastern Conference playoffs against the Manchester Monarchs (second, Atlantic Division) Thursday in Manchester.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Greening. “I think this is the first time Binghamton has been in the playoffs in six years, so the entire community is really excited and we’re excited to start playing.
“We put a lot of work into it and this is our reward. You want to play the game as hard and as long as you can, and let the cards fall where they may.
“I feel like I had a good regular season in Binghamton (15 goals, 40 points), but playoff hockey is different, so we’ll see.”