COVID-19 altered or canceled many things over the course of the roughly 10 months that the United States and the rest of the world have dealt with the virus. Among those milestones or events that had to be put off was the chance for Andy Greene to play against his former team, the New Jersey Devils.
Greene was acquired by the New York Islanders in mid-February and would have faced his former team in mid-March had it not been for the league postponing the season on March 12. The veteran defenseman will finally get that chance on Thursday when the Isles play New Jersey in the first of two matchups over the next four days.
The Islanders will host New Jersey at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night and then travel to the Prudential Center on Sunday.
“Obviously first time doing this and you know it’s going to be strange,” Greene said after the Islanders practiced on Long Island Wednesday. “it will be weird, but once we get out there I’m sure strange seeing a couple of those guys that I still have a really good relationship with. I don’t know (how it will be).
“I know it’s kind of weird. Once the puck drops and we get through the first shift there it will be hockey as usual, but for sure it will be my first time going through it.”
Game tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/TaM6EYMWfA
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 20, 2021
The 15-year NHL defenseman had been a lifelong Devil before he was traded last season to boost the Islanders’ depth at the blue line. Adam Pelech had been lost for the season following a freak injury in January and while Noah Dobson had been performing admirably in his place, the Isles needed some help.
Andy Greene only played three regular-season games in New York before COVID-19 shut down the season. The vet was able to establish his role during the postseason, where he became a vital piece in the Islanders’ run to the conference finals.
While Greene and his family have adjusted going from Devils to Islanders since the February trade, there are still little adjustments that they’re getting used to.
For instance, on Monday with the Islanders playing a matinee Greene’s two young sons were able to watch the home opener against the Boston Bruins. The Greenes watched the game from home, like the rest of the fans, and Greene’s 3-year-old son got all excited when the MSG+ broadcast showed Sparky, the Islanders mascot.
However, it did raise one pressing question for the youngest member of the Greene family.
“He was like, ‘where is NJ Devil,'” Greene said. “We were like, ‘well bud he’s not there, We’re not there anymore he’s not going to be there, but maybe on Sunday you’ll be able to see him on TV there.'”
And while Greene’s family adjusts to the change in mascots, Greene will have to find a way to play through facing guys that he came up with in the NHL. Travis Zajac and Greene played for New Jersey together for nearly their entire careers.
Andy Greene and Zajac both made their NHL debuts during the 2006-07 and the two developed a close friendship.
“That will be obviously the more weird ones to play against,” Greene said. “Obviously knowing him, just the relationship we have together and everything we’ve been through together as teammates and friends. It will be fun. It will be good. Obviously, it will be a great challenge.”