Meet the surgeon who fixes Lightning players' faces, teeth

By Erin Maloney, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, May 23, 2016, 5:51 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Lightning fans may know everyone on the ice, but they may not be familiar with another important member of the team: the maxillofacial surgeon.

  • Dr. James R. Green IV treats Bolts players’ serious facial injuries
  • Players can incur jaw injuries, missing teeth, facial lacerations
  • A lot of triage, treatment are done in locker room

Dr. James R. Green IV enjoys watching the Lightning play at Amalie Arena, but he admits he can’t take in the game like a typical fan. That’s because he’s responsible for treating players’ serious facial injuries. Jaw injuries, missing teeth, even facial lacerations are all possibilities in every game.

Sometimes, Green is able to fix those injuries without even leaving Amalie Arena.
“During the games, you’re on call. In the back of your mind, you’re thinking, ‘What’s going to happen next? Am I going to be needed next?’ Sometimes you do get a little caught up watching and get excited when they score,” Green said.
He tries to do a lot of the triage and treatment in the locker room.

“Part of it is to get them back in the game. If the game’s going on, they want to be playing,” Green said.
If a player gets a puck to the face, odds are, Green will need to treat them. The worst injury he’s seen in his three seasons with the team resulted in a player losing his four front teeth. His lip was also split.

That player went right back into the game.

“Those guys are tough. They are willing to take their injuries and play through them as long as they can,” Green said.

Sometimes, if players break a tooth, they will numb the area to allow them to continue playing. The tooth can be fixed the next day.

Green never followed hockey before joining the team himself.

“Now that I’ve been involved in it, I’m a huge hockey fan. It’s a great sport, I love watching it, and it’s fun to go to all the games. It’s always exciting and intense,” Green said.

Now, he gets a front row seat to another Stanley Cup run.

His favorite player? Green says he likes them all, but his 3-year-old son is a huge Ben Bishop fan.

“Sometimes he’ll sneak out of bed to watch an away game with me,” Green said.

Green will be on call during Tuesday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Of course, Bolts faithful hope his services won’t be needed.