It wasn’t where a first-team NHL all-star had to be on a Saturday morning, but Mike Green was game for washing toilets, hanging posters, and coloring at Powell Elementary school in D.C. as part of the city-wide DCPS Beautification Day.
Though many athletes chose to give back to their communities, Green’s involvement in D.C. earned him national recognition last season by the NHL, when he was a finalist for the league’s Foundation Award for community service.
So why does he go above and beyond?
“It puts a smile on my face,” Green said. “I know when I was young and athletes used to come to my school and help out, it was one of the greatest things.”
Green said his workouts this offseason have been by far the most intense of his career. Being conditioned for next year’s playoffs is already on his mind.
“Come playoff time, you’ve got to make sure you’re in shape, so I wanted to make sure I’m in the best shape possible,” Green said. “It’s been a tough summer.”
Green said he’s been able to find some escape from hockey and subsequent pressures this offseason by hanging out at the lake back home in Calgary where he lives, but that he misses the game already.
When asked what he learned from last season that’s going to be the biggest improvement in his game this year, he talked about consistency and avoiding injury. Injuries have marred his past two postseasons. Green also shared his thoughts on new teammate D.J. King and the idea of defenseman Willie Mitchell possibly being in a Caps uniform.
“I played against him when I was younger in the WHL, and he’s a big boy, so I know everybody’s exciting to have him here,” Green said of King.
On Mitchell, he said, “I think he’d be a great fit in Washington.”
Overall, more than 125 people were expected at Powell Saturday to get the building ready for the first day of school Monday, according to Serve DC Executive Director Tracy Sandler. Sandler said having Green’s name is a great draw, as well as a good example for the community.
“A great community partner, someone who really wants to give back,” Sandler said of Green’s reputation in the local service community.
Sandler said the role volunteerism and service play in D.C. continues to increase.
“It’s just nice to see volunteers out and about on a Saturday morning,” Sandler said. “To put this together, it’s supplies, volunteers, logistics, people, everything – so it takes a lot of hard work.”
Volunteers also got the benefit of working to Caps fan Jarrod Wronski’s D.J. playlist for the day. Wronski, who runs Metro DC DJs and Sports Announcing.Com, has collaborated with the Caps on similar projects for several years. He said the top song Caps fans want to hear varies by year. Last year, it was “Hell, Yeah!” The year before, it was “The Pretender” from Foo Fighters.
Wronski said he went to his first Caps game when he was 18 days old, but bringing Alex Ovechkin to D.C. rekindled his excitement in the team.
Andy Strakna, a young Caps fan, said he found out about the event on the Capitals website (which is his homepage), but he wouldn’t budge from saying the draw was the community service rather than Mike Green. Andy said he’s been a Caps’ fan for about three years. His father Joe, who came along, admitted he was “kind of” a Carolina Hurricanes fan, but he said it made for a good rivalry.
Another father and son team, Max and Sam Rosen, also found out about the event on the internet – Max has been a Caps’ fan for the entire history of the franchise, but it’s his son who follows the trade moves and salary caps and earned the nickname “GM Sam” from Max’s coworkers. (For those curious, Sam thinks signing Willie Mitchell is a “high risk” because of the player’s history with concussions, but probably a risk the Caps should go for.)