Q&A with Colin Greening

By Matt MacInnis

Ottawa prospect Colin Greening has gone from coast to coast in his efforts to fulfill his dream to play in the NHL. Born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Greening played last season for Upper Canada College in Toronto, Ontario. While there he attracted the attention of the Senators, who made him their seventh-round selection, 204th overall in 2005. Greening has played this season for the BCHL Nanaimo Clippers, about as far from his birthplace as he could while staying in Canada.

Next season the center will head south to Cornell University, joining a long pipeline of players moving from Nanaimo to Ithaca. Forwards Raymond Sawada (DAL), Shane Hynes (ANA), Byron Bitz (BOS), Tyler Mugford, Greg Hornby, and defenseman Ryan O’Byrne (MON) all played for the Clippers and then for Cornell.

At 6’2, 200 lbs, Greening has NHL size and strength. During the regular season he appeared in 56 of 60 games and tallied 62 points, including 27 goals. Through the first four games of his team’s playoff series against the Victoria Salsa, Greening has two goals, although the Clippers currently trail 3-1. Greening uses his size well, hitting hard and is very strong along the boards. He sees the ice well and uses his linemates equally well. He needs to work on his speed, especially his explosiveness. Greening has the size and skill to be a very good collegiate player, although his upside at the NHL level is likely limited to a depth line player.

Coach Bill Bestwick, whose team just won the BCHL Regular Season Championship, talked about what he had expected of Greening coming in.

“Well we knew that he was a power forward, that he was going to bring a lot of
energy and he’s done more than that for us. He’s brought his power game and
he’s brought a finesse game that we didn’t know that he had and he had a
wonderful and successful rookie season.

“He’s a very strong player, a very good skater, very strong over the puck. He
has an excellent release and his attitude, his work ethic is second to none.”

But, to move on, Greening has a few things to work on.

“His confidence and poise,” Bestwick named. “He has excellent outside acceleration and strength and once he really learns how to use that he’ll be a force where he plays,
whatever level.”

Hockey’s Future spoke to Greening following the Clippers’ final game of the regular season.

HF: How do you feel that you have been able to contribute to the team?

CG: Obviously going into the season I knew that Bill was just trying to get me ready for college hockey. But I think I’ve done my part, I’ve played hard obviously and worked hard on ice and off ice. It’s been a real team effort. I’ve become a better player this season and I’m just really looking forward to the playoffs.

HF: Before you arrived in the BCHL, did you have any expectations about what kind of point totals you could put up?

CG: Well the thing is when I looked at it, if you put the effort in the points will come. Sometimes it may not happen and you work hard every night for it, and the points may not come. My philosophy is that I just have to keep putting the effort in and the points are nice and are nice to look at on the web, but at the end of the day it’s about the playing defensively and blocking shots and little things. I feel that I’ve put up some good numbers this year.

HF: What do you feel are your strengths?

CG: I try to read the ice really well and use my options. I try to use my speed really well and along the boards. I think that I do a lot of things really well but I’m out here to learn and get stronger, and like I said, Bill’s really helped me to achieve that this year.

HF: And what do you need to improve?

CG: I think I really need to improve my quickness, you know, my jump. To get quick strides out and I’ve been working on that on and off the ice this year.

HF: You spent last season at Upper Canada College. How did you come about making the decision to come to the BCHL?

CG: Obviously I, at Upper Canada College, I had committed to Cornell University. And originally I was going to go down there this year but I realized I needed a year of junior to get stronger and get my timing and things like that. It wasn’t like I chose the BCHL, I chose Nanaimo. I felt it was the best place for me to go to become a better player and to learn from a great coach with a great track record and obviously he’s shown that again this year, winning the BCHL regular season title. In the end it was my decision to come out here.

HF: Very few players get drafted straight out of the type of league you were in last season. How much of a shock was it to be selected in last year’s draft?

CG: You know the thing was that going into the draft I had no expectations. I knew I was on the list, I knew that I had talk to some teams and worked out for Ottawa. It’s always nice to get drafted but I had no expectations. My advisor, he actually called me when the seventh round came around and I said it wasn’t the end of the world, it would have been nice to get drafted, but then my advisor called me and sure enough I had been drafted. I was elated and couldn’t have been happier and it was a celebration for me and my family for all the hard work we had put in. It’s just the first stepping stone though and I need to work even harder to actually get to the professional leagues.

HF: Since being drafted, how much communication have you had with the Sens?

CG: Surprisingly, I’ve actually had a lot with them. I mean, it’s funny. Even though I was injured for a little while a couple weeks ago and the player personnel guy e-mailed me the next day, he noticed I wasn’t in the line-up. I realized that they are kind of checking up on my games. He e-mails me every couple of weeks; he’s invited me to their rookie camp. I’ve talked to the strength and conditioning coach a couple of times this year. I mean, when I got drafted I was kind of a low pick and I’m no Brian Lee who they picked so I was kind of surprised that they’ve been talking to me so much.

HF: What kind of adjustments do you expect to have to make when you play at Cornell next season?

CG: Well obviously it’s going to be a little different than out here. It’s going to be a learning curve, it’s bigger, faster, stronger. You have less time on the ice, less time to move the puck. It’s a lot faster. Basically the size of the guys is a big difference, there are guys 24-25 years old and have played for four years and you have to compete with those guys. Cornell for me was an obvious choice. They have a great track record, working towards a championship. I stand by my decision and I’m really excited to go.

Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.