Ed. Note: In homage to “Who Wore it Best?” the NHL-produced series featured on both NHL.com and the league’s broadcast partners, JFTC begins a regular feature highlighting the top players to wear each sweater number in Kings’ franchise history. Check back to our first edition for a longer discussion of the selection process.
No. 2 and the Los Angeles Kings
We began our previous installment by acknowledging the game’s “unwritten rule” reserving the no. 1 for goalies. Thus, it was far from surprising that all 15 players who have worn that sweater for the Kings manned the crease. Although in my opinion the relationship between the no. 2 and defenseman (or “defencemen” for our Canadian readers) fails to rise to the level of an “unwritten rule”, their synergy nonetheless turns out just as strong in practice, as all 27 players who have donned the no. 2 sweater for Los Angeles have been defensemen.
The first player to wear #2 for the Kings was Bob Wall, whom the Kings claimed from Detroit in the 1967 Expansion Draft. Paul LaDue currently wears the no. 2 sweater for the club, having switched from the no. 38 prior to the 2018-19 season. Of the 27 players to wear #2 for the Kings, 18 were born in Canada, five in the United States, and one each in the Czech Republic (Frantisek Kaberle), Ukraine (Alexi Zhitnik), and Venezuela (Rick Chartraw). Beginning with Jim Brown in 1983, eight of the the last 14 players to have donned the Kings’ no. 2 sweater played NCAA hockey.
Matt Greene, a current scout for the Kings, leads Kings’ no. 2s in games played with 464. However, despite playing 294 fewer games than Greene, Alexei Zhitnik tops the franchise scoring list for number twos, racking up 107 points in 170 games. Dean Kennedy sits atop the team’s #2 list for career penalty minutes with 591. Finally, Terry Harper’s +69 plus/minus places him first among number twos and eighth all-time among all Kings players in that category.
Who wore #2 best?
Matt Greene (2008 -2017)
The Michigan-born Greene embodies what an NHL no. 2 is supposed to look like. NHL.com describes Greene as “[A] bruising player who rarely avoids contact, Greene (6-foot-3, 229 pounds) is a stay-at-home defenseman who keeps his game simple, clears the puck and will punish opponents in his path.” Greene was selected by Edmonton in the 2nd round (#44 overall) of the 2002 draft after patrolling the blue line for three seasons at North Dakota. He was acquired by the Kings (along with Jarret Stoll) from the Oilers prior to the 2008-09 season in exchange for Lubomir Visnovsky. The Kings named Greene an alternate captain prior to that first season with the club. He wore the “A” for eight seasons, surrendering it prior to his final season in Los Angeles.
Greene played all 82 games that first year with the Kings, leading the team with 167 blocked shots and placing second with 206 hits. He further led the Kings in hits the next three seasons, including the 2012 Cup-winning campaign, during which he finished third among NHL defensemen with 241 hits, while playing all 82 regular season and all 20 playoff games. Never an offensive threat, Greene recorded only 67 career points (16 goals and 51 assists) over the 464 regular season games he played with the club, taking only 386 shots (.8 shots per game.) He did, however, rack up 458 penalty minutes with the Kings.
In conclusion, two crucial things stand out about Greene’s career that extend well beyond the numbers. First, his teammates awarded him the Ace Bailey Memorial Award as the club’s Most Inspirational Player six times between 2009-10 and 2014-15, including both Stanley Cup winning seasons. Second, upon Greene’s release, Luc Robitaille told the media, “Matt has made incredible contributions to our hockey club and we are very grateful for everything he has done since joining our organization including his outstanding leadership.... Upon his arrival to Los Angeles, he played a significant role in helping change the culture of the Kings and his contributions to our two Stanley Cups in particular is immeasurable.”
Thus, with a resume like that, there is no question that Matt Greene is not only the Kings’ “number one of number twos”, but that he was also a certified “hockey player”, whose play and commitment to team embodied much of what we love about the game and those who play it.
Do you agree or disagree with the selection of Matt Greene as the Kings’ “number one of number 2’s?” Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or hit up Mark on Twitter at @DevoreOnSports. Stay safe, and as always, Go Kings Go!