Building the Herd – Joe Greener

#97 Joe Greener

Position: Forward

Born: Basingstoke, Hampshire, England

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 9th May

 

With people speculating over who will be replacing those players who have left the Bison, coach Doug Sheppard satisfied the fanbase’s need for information by announcing another returnee from last season’s squad in the form of Joe Greener who adds the moniker of assistant coach to his playing role.

 

Greener, 26 came through the Basingstoke junior system making his debut for the Bison in the BNL in the 1999/00 season. After more time in the junior ranks, Greener progressed to the senior side once again in the 2002/03 BNL campaign where he scored 5 points in 31 games for the Bison.

Greener pastures beckoned (bad pun alert, Ed.) as Joe moved to Sault Ste Marie, Michigan in the US to play for the Soo Indians, first in the Mid Western Elite League before progressing to the Indians’ North American Hockey League side in 2004/05. Joe would remain in the NAHL, one of the top junior leagues in America and a feeder league for many US colleges and Canadian major junior leagues for a further 3 years with the Cleveland Barons and finishing with 2 years as part of the Traverse City North Stars. Greener finished his NAHL career with a respectable 66 points (31+35) in 163 games.

Greener returned to Britain in 2008 to ice for the Bracknell Bees chalking up 51 points in 45 games before spending the next three years with the Slough Jets. In 157 games in Berkshire, Joe chalked up 218 points alongside his defenceman brother Adam. In Joe’s time at Slough, the Jets won 2 playoff titles and 1 EPL cup beating the Bison in the final. Joe also led the league in assists in 2011/12 whilst captaining the side. For 2012/13 Greener followed Doug Sheppard to Basingstoke and tallied 49 points in 46 league contests and, in case you live in a hole, scored the overtime powerplay goal that sent the Bison to the EPL playoff weekend for the first time. In the EPL, Joe has 318 points (89+229) in 248 games. His international careers stands at 4 caps for GB under 18s in 2005 but was recently called into the long squads for the Olympic qualifiers and the recent world championships by Tony Hand but missed the cut for the final squad on both occasions.

“I still have some unfinished business with the Bison and that is to bring back a trophy. Last season was a frustrating one for me as I was only fit for about 25 games and 10 of those were at the end of the season.” – Bison press release

So let me get this straight; Greener feels he was only fit for about half the season and went over a point per game? Talk about putting statistics and performance into context.

When you consider how much Bison fans booed him when he was playing for Slough, there’s a beautiful irony to the fact that it was Joe Greener’s shot over Dean Skinns into the roof of the goal that sent the Bison to the EPL playoff semi finals. The numbers spoke for themselves however and even the most hardened critic of Greener had to concede that signing a player who had 70 points plus for three consecutive years was probably a decent signing when he was announced at last season’s season ticket night. Now obviously factors conspired to lessen his output in 2012/13 but even then he came up big on more than one occasion, two goals against Manchester, one at Altrincham and one at home, stand out as moments when Joe came good in the clutch.

The term power forward couldn’t be put to better use to describe Joe’s game. Those of use with long memories remember the press release announcing the signing of Danny Stewart and realising what a great work of fiction it was when this finesse winger with soft hands was described as a power forward when you compare him his game to Joe’s. As gritty as a gravel path but with massive point scoring ability (you only need to see his wrist shot), there is arguably no finer player in that role in the EPL as Joe Greener. It adds a dimension to the Bison’s forward line up that other teams can’t match at the moment. Teams can put a gritty guy on their top two lines, there’s plenty of guys like that in the EPL who do that job really well but few have Greener’s talent and offensive output.

The announcement that Greener becomes assistant coach into the bargain bears a bit of discussion. Firstly he’s younger than me and now helping to coach the Bison which just makes me feel like the oldest man alive so cheers Joe. Secondly it shows that Greener’s got a plan and ambition in mind with what he wants to do with his career which I find interesting. He’s got his sights set on returning to America and coaching out there and it’s something to keep an eye on for the future. Thirdly is what this brings to the recruitment side of things. Sheppard touched on it in the article in the Gazette today (here) that Greener has good contacts in North America. Different avenues become open to Sheppard in terms of who is out there now which is never a bad thing. It’s the best thing in the world to have lots of viable, high quality options for positions and the players that Greener can attract in this new position only add to that.

I’ll be honest, I can’t confess to being Greener’s biggest fan when he signed. Read his welcome piece that I wrote last season, I had wilfully been one of the people jeering him in a Jets jersey. I did however say that he was an upgrade on the players that we had at the time which I think he proved beyond doubt. The other thing is that Greener, like Jeremy Cornish before him in a Bison jersey, is someone you have to watch week in, week out to appreciate. You get a better appreciation of the guy’s skill set and what he brings and after a year of it I have to think this is a good re-signing.

Welcome back Joe, looking forward to what you can do when fully fit.

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