EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Kings bought out the final year of defenseman Matt Greene’s contract Friday, cutting ties with another portion of their Stanley Cup championship core.
Greene has been with the Kings since 2008, and he provided steady stay-at-home defense during their title runs in 2012 and 2014, playing in 20 playoff games in each postseason. He became a fan favorite in Los Angeles for his physical play and willingness to absorb punishment in the Kings’ grinding defensive game plan.
But the 34-year-old Greene has played in only 29 games over the past two seasons due to serious injuries, and he has played in more than half of the Kings’ games in just one regular season since 2012.
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”Matt Greene has made incredible contributions to our hockey club, and we are grateful for everything he has done since joining our organization, including his outstanding leadership,” Kings President Luc Robitaille said. ”Upon his arrival to Los Angeles, he played a significant role in helping change the culture of the Kings, and his contribution to our two Stanley Cups in particular is immeasurable.”
Greene had surgery on his shoulder and elbow while playing just three games in the 2015-16 season. Greene then went on injured reserve Jan. 30 and had back surgery after appearing in just 26 games last season.
Greene got a four-year, $10 million contract extension that began in 2014 from former general manager Dean Lombardi, who was fired in April after the Kings missed the playoffs for the second time in three years.
The buyout turns Greene’s $2.5 million cap hit next season into an $833,333 hit in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Lombardi handed out several generous contracts after the Kings became champions, including an eight-year, $47 million deal for low-scoring former captain Dustin Brown, a seven-year, $34 million deal for oft-injured scorer Marian Gaborik and a 10-year, $58 million deal for goalie Jonathan Quick.
Greene began his NHL career in Edmonton after playing collegiately at North Dakota. He has 17 goals and 63 assists in 615 career games.