As a group of children surrounded him begging for autographs, Andy Greene looked out over the ice at Kennedy Recreation Center and smiled.
Greene has plenty to smile about. He currently plays in the National Hockey League for the New Jersey Devils. His team recently made a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. And he's a Trojan.
Greene's status as a former Trenton High School hockey player was immortalized Wednesday night when a banner with his name and number was retired to the rafters above the ice where he once played as a boy.
When Greene helped win a state championship for the Trojans in 1998, he dreamed of playing like Detroit Red Wing legends Steve Yzerman and Niklas Lidstrom. He never imagined he would be honored by his former team in such a way.
"I'm very honored that this is happening, but it's not something that, as a player, you say, 'I'm going to play, so I can get my jersey retired," Greene said. "You play because you love the game."
Greene stood on the ice before his family, friends and fans as the banner was raised. But, as the banner ascended above the ice it stopped suddenly and hung crooked above his head. Once again, he smiled and after a few moments the banner began to rise again followed by deafening cheers.
An NHL lock out afforded Greene the time to attend the ceremony. Greene said he and his fellow Devils continue to train, waiting for the lock out to come to and end, so he can get back to playing the game that has had such a tremendous impact on his life and the Trenton community.
"That's the only positive about the lockout," Greene said. "Being able to come here tonight and do this and (for everyone to) show the appreciation that they do."
Greene said signing autographs comes with the territory of being a professional athlete and he signed everything, including a $20 bill, that tiny hands and wide eyes past him that night.
"You pay it forward because it's so much about the great support from friends and family and from the community," Greene said.