Senators prospect well-schooled
Now the classroom is an ice rink for forward Colin Greening
|Cornell University grad Colin Greening has the potential to blossom into a power forward for the Ottawa Senators, the team that selected him in the seventh round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).
It's an everyday education.
The 24-year-old Newfoundlander spent four years in the world of higher learning at Cornell University, a prestigious Ivy League school located in Ithaca, N.Y. But now the hockey side of that growth curve is about to step up a notch with the Ottawa Senators, who signed the 6-2, 211-pound forward to an entry-level contract shortly after his college playing days ended.
Like any good student, Greening is already hard at work boning up on everything it will take to make an impression when he arrives in Ottawa for rookie camp in early September and, he hopes, main training camp, which opens Sept. 17 at Scotiabank Place.
"Any time you get into a new atmosphere, you want to take as much in and learn from the veterans as much as you can," Greening said with an eye toward camp in September. "It’s weird for me because I’m a little older than normal rookies, but it’s like anything. You kind of have to pay your dues, but you’ve got to try to learn as much as you can. I just want to have a good camp when I come into rookie camp and main camp. Just kind of prove than I can play at this level.
"It’s important that I learn how to play at this level because I’ve never experienced the pro game. From the people I’ve talked to, (I've heard) it’s certainly a different game than college. I think that’s the biggest goal, to try to make the team and to try to learn as much as I can. That’ll make me a better player down the road."
If that means starting his pro career in the American Hockey League with the Binghamton Senators, then so be it.
That outlook served Greening extremely well at Cornell, both inside the classroom and out. He believes the entire experience there prepared him well for the challenges ahead.
"The coach there (at Cornell) really taught me the defensive side of the game," said Greening, a seventh-round pick (204th overall) by the Senators in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. "He taught me a lot of idiosyncratic things about the game, to kind of let the play unfold a bit more and to be more patient. It’s not like a rush-rush game, like I kind of always want to play. It’s little things like that.
"Overall, it taught me how to manage my life. You’ve got to put all your time and effort into your priorities and at college, it was hockey and school. Now, it’s kind of a different world, where it’s going to be all hockey. (College) taught me how to manage my life and be a more well-rounded person. That was definitely what I took out of the four years at Cornell."
While he had a "big offensive role" at Cornell, the Senators envision Greening making an impact in a different way as a pro.
"I think Colin Greening has the physical makeup to be an NHL power forward," said Randy Lee, the Senators' director of player development and hockey administration. "If he's going to play big minutes for us, that's where he's going to be. At this level, he's got to use his size and his strength and be a punishing player and a hard guy to play against."
Greening was the Big Red's captain in his senior year and was also a leader in the classroom. The Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference named him its student-athlete of the year and he also received the Lowe's Senior CLASS award, which is presented annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in NCAA division I men's hockey.
He's also smart enough to know what he is and isn't as a hockey player. That realization, Greening believes, has been a byproduct of taking part in five years worth of Senators development camps.
"Every development camp is always a learning lesson," he said. "One of the biggest things that they really try to instill in me is to make sure ... I stay within my game. I know that sounds corny and clichéd, but it’s true. I don’t see myself as a Jason Spezza type of player. I see myself as more of a power forward, a hard-nosed guy that’s willing to go into the corners and makes smart plays and can make good plays and score goals.
"I think you need to look at yourself and realize your strengths and that’s what they’ve tried to instill in me as well."
Added Lee: "He could be pretty versatile. And he's a great character guy. At Cornell, he was really well-respected in the dressing room and he was really well-respected by his teammates and his coaches. There is nobody that works harder than him."