Photo Credit: Vancouver Canucks
By Scott Rosenhek
Well, I don’t know why it took so long since the Canucks season has been over for two weeks, but Travis Green will be the next head coach behind the bench this fall. The team will officially introduce Travis Green tomorrow from Rogers Arena at 11 and will be livestreamed on Facebook.
So we have a name, but what should fans expect from our new coach? Travis Green was born in Castlegar, B.C. and played in the NHL for 16 years for a variety of teams such as the Islanders, Ducks (when they were still Mighty!), Coyotes, Maple Leafs and Bruins.
Many know Travis Green for his time in the American Hockey League, but not everyone may know about his very successful year in the Western Hockey League. Green was the interim head coach for the Portland Winterhawks in 47 games during 2012-13. In that end to the season, Green had a 37-8-2 record, with the team ending the season 57-12-3. The Winterhawks finished 1st place in the WHL and won the league championship. Travis Green and star defenseman Seth Jones went on to the Memorial Cup and just came up short against a powerhouse Halifax Mooseheads team led by Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon.
After that, Green was hired as the head coach of the Utica Comets. He did miss the playoffs in his first season, finishing third in their division. In the 2014-15, the Comets dominated their division, going 47-20-7 and good for first place. This season featured incredible seasons by Jacob Markstrom and newly acquired forward at the time, Sven Baertschi. The Comets came very close to winning the Calder Cup, losing to Manchester 4-1 in the Finals.
The next two years really tested how well Travis Green could adapt. Jim Benning had failed to provide enough depth to the NHL club as well as dealing their top scorer in Hunter Shinkaruk to the Flames for Markus Granlund. Benning also could not find a number one center and defenseman to replace Cal O’Reilly and Bobby Sanguinetti. To Green’s credit, the Comets made the playoffs with a 3rd place divisional finish. The Comets lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Last, but not least is the season most fans are familiar with. It has been said ad nauseam by so much of the Vancouver media, but the team lacked depth everywhere. The main club kept taking players and Jayson Megna and Michael Chaput were originally brought in to help the Comets (so much for that plan). Despite the patchwork roster that was leftover, Travis Green still pulled off a 35-32-9 record. Unfortunately, the Comets had just missed the playoffs.
So now we have his coaching record, but now we need to talk about coaching style. Brace yourself Canucks fans, you are going to see something very similar to what we saw with Willie Desjardins.
To survive with such a lacklustre lineup, Travis Green had to play with a very trap heavy, low event style of play. Sounds familiar, right? Willie Desjardins had to resort to this style of play when he realized there was a serious lack of talent on the roster. To his credit, he did what he thought would give the team the best chance to win. Well, we saw how that turned out.
I am not going to judge Green as a Desjardins clone before he even gets a chance. I don’t know how he will handle a young team in the NHL. Green has been credited with being the first to believe in Baertschi when no one else would. Jacob Markstrom saw a lot of success as well as Brendan Gaunce. Jordan Subban has taken major steps as an offensive defensemen and was shown tough love by Green with healthy scratches for stretches of poor play.
However, there were some failures as well. Hunter Shinkaruk looked promising, but only played a handful of games in the NHL this year. Andrey Pedan has taken several steps back and Cole Cassels will likely not be playing with the Canucks any time soon.
The next interesting point concerns Jake Virtanen. There were pats on the back when Green showed him tough love like Jordan Subban and he ended up leading the team’s defensemen in points. However, the problem lies in the fact that Virtanen had a horrific season in the AHL. He had 9 goals and 19 points in 67 games. Yikes.
I am going to give Travis Green a fair shot at being the next head coach. One thing I will say to fans is to be patient. This team will not be winning too many games next year and that’s okay. I am very interested to see how hard the players work for him, especially our younger players. At this point, we should see what happens.