Kings activate defenseman Matt Greene in order to buy out his contract

Kings defenseman Matt Greene takes a shot during the second period of a game against the Sharks on Oct. 7, 2015.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The Kings prepared to bid farewell to a core member of their two Stanley Cup-winning teams when they activated rugged defenseman Matt Greene off injured reserve Tuesday as the first step toward buying out his contract.

Greene, 34, has one year left on his contract at $2.5 million. The salary-cap hit for buying out the contract of a player who is older than 26 is two-thirds of the cap hit spread over twice the remaining length. That will give the Kings a cap hit of $833,333 for Greene in each of the next two seasons. The league-wide buyout period will begin Thursday.

Although injuries and back surgery limited Greene to 26 games last season, his teammates still chose him as the winner of the Ace Bailey Memorial Award, given annually to the club’s most inspirational player. It was the sixth time he won the award since he joined the Kings from Edmonton on June 29, 2008 with Jarret Stoll in a trade for defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky.

In his prime, the native of Grand Ledge, Mich., was a hard-hitting defender, vocal leader, and an alternate captain. His best production was 15 points in the 2011-12 season, but his value went beyond that to his fearless shot-blocking, penalty-killing intensity, and positive influence in the locker room. He played in all 20 playoff games when the Kings won the Cup in 2012, dishing out 77 hits and blocking 24 shots, and he played in 20 of 26 games when they won again in 2014, getting credit for 62 hits and 24 blocks.


His physical style ultimately took a heavy toll on his body. Back surgery limited him to five regular-season games in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, and he played only 38 regular-season games in the 2013-14 season before the team’s playoff run. He played a full season in 2014-15 but needed shoulder surgery late in 2015 and played only three games in 2015-16. He again underwent back surgery last season and played only 26 games.

Greene’s career totals are 17 goals, 80 points and 663 penalty minutes in 615 career NHL games with Edmonton and the Kings.

The buyout gives the Kings some salary cap room to make moves that could boost their offense.

Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen