When Luke Green made the decision to move on from the Saint John Sea Dogs organization, he truly believed it was the right move for his career.
The Bedford, N.S., product wanted to take a different path in the QMJHL, even if it meant leaving behind his twin brother Matt, and a team destined for a President Cup. The highly skilled rearguard was traded from the Saint John Sea Dogs to the Sherbrooke Phoenix during the 2016 season.
The gifted offensive defencemen had flourished in the Port City, racking up 77 points through his first two seasons with the Sea Dogs.
“Deals of this magnitude, when you are talking about a former first overall pick and a player of Luke’s status, take months to consummate,” said Sea Dogs GM and President, Trevor Georgie.
“Trading Luke allowed us to accumulate assets to make other moves we felt [were] necessary to compete for a Memorial Cup. Sherbrooke’s first round selection in 2018 was a key piece to our acquisition of Simon Bourque,” he pointed out.
“The 2018 second round selection was a component of our trade to bring in Julien Gauthier for our President Cup run. And the final second round selection in 2020 is still in our possession,” Georgie added.
Considering the Sea Dogs depth on defence, along with Thomas Chabot’s ascension to the role of a number one defenceman, Green’s time on ice took a hit in 2016-2017. He felt a change of scenery would help his overall progression as a player. “The decision was difficult, but it was the right move for my hockey career,” said Green.
Georgie still remembers the phone call he made to the talented defenceman, informing him of the trade. “I like Luke a lot, obviously he has some incredible gifts. He was calm, polite, thankful for the opportunity, and optimistic about what was next,” remembered Georgie.
“He was looking forward to a fresh start with Sherbrooke,” said Georgie. “I am disappointed for him, and disappointed for Jocelyn [Thibault] that he was injured at [the] Winnipeg [Jets’] camp this year. I look forward to him being back in action soon.”
The Phoenix missed the playoffs a season ago and for the first time in Green’s QMJHL career, he wasn’t playing in the post-season. Instead, he ended up watching his former club win it all.
“I was excited for them to win the President Cup, the players earned it,” Green said.
Despite not having won a league championship, the blueliner’s strong play over his first two seasons in Saint John didn’t go unnoticed. As a matter of fact, the Winnipeg Jets selected Green in the 3rd round, 79th overall, of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
“Getting drafted was very exciting,” said Green. “I knew I just became a part of one of the best organizations and fan bases in hockey.”
Green was signed to an amateur tryout agreement with Winnipeg’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Manitoba Moose last March. And with the Phoenix held out of the playoffs, Green got to enjoy his first taste of professional hockey.
“It was an amazing experience, it was so much fun,” said Green. “It helped my game tremendously to see what it’s like at the pro level.”
Green entered the off-season with a new outlook on his career and was looking forward to having a massive impact with the Phoenix. “This was the best summer I had ever had in terms of training. I was in the best shape of my life before getting injured.”
The nineteen-year-old dislocated his shoulder while attending the Jets’ training camp in September. The injury required surgery, and nearly 20 weeks of recovery.
“I think the training that I did put in this summer has enhanced the quality of my recovery and expected timeline,” explained Green. “My rehab is going very smoothly so far, I don’t want to put dates out there for my return, but I can say that I’m on the [right] track.”
“Luke has worked tremendously hard to get back as soon as possible,” added Phoenix GM, Jocelyn Thibault. “If everything keeps going the way it has been, Luke should be back playing sooner than expected.”
At the time, the idea of missing half of the 2017-2018 QMJHL season was obviously extremely disappointing for Green. But his smile quickly came back when, a few days after his injury, the Jets officially signed him to a three-year entry-level contract.
For now though, Green is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to get back on the ice. But he understands and accepts the rehabilitation process.
“I’m going to begin skating in two weeks, but I have been in the gym almost every day, building and maintaining my strength and conditioning,” explained the Jets prospect. “This is a big year for myself and the Phoenix [and] I want to help the team make a long run.”
Green isn’t shy when sharing his future plans and is trying to move forward from the injury that has kept him away from the game he loves.
“My goal is to play pro next year,” he admits. “Sure, the injury was frustrating. But it is part of the game and I’m focused on coming back even better.”
“Luke is a big part of our team and defensive core,” said Thibault. “His loss has been important for us, to say the least. He can log a lot of playing time because of his skating ability, stamina and overall talent and we sure look forward to having him back.”
Sherbrooke currently sits 9th overall in the QMJHL standings with 31 pts through 28 games. Green’s return would definitely bolster the team’s overall performance, and could propel the Phoenix into the upper echelon of the league.