Due to suffering their worst season in 18 years, the Vancouver Canucks have made a change. Today, Travis Green has become the new Head Coach. For the last four years, Green has been coach their AHL affiliate Utica Comets. During his time there he has accumulated a record of 55-110-29 record in 304 games. He also led the team to a Calder Cup final in 2015.
Since the sacking of Willie Desjardins on April 10th, Vancouver has decided to look closer to the home. The 46-year-old BC native had an NHL career spanning 970 games from 1989 to 2007. During this time he played for New York Islanders, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Boston Bruins, Phoenix Coyotes and the Maple Leafs. There is no question that he is qualified to lead this team, but is he a smart choice?
In 2015, Green turned the Comets into an AHL powerhouse. Bested in the final in 5 games by the Manchester Monarchs, the team was nonetheless impressive. One thing that clearly appeals to the Vancouver brass is having someone able to relate to the younger talent. Desjardin never seemed able to get the best of the talent he had. Players like Sven Baertschi, Jordan Subban and Jake Virtanen all failed to convince last season.
What Green will bring is a new approach, he also already knows what players work best under him. Confidence was desperately low last season. Vancouver missing the playoffs for three out of the last four seasons has cemented fan frustrations. Despite better-qualified bosses like Michel Therrien and Darryl Sutter being available- Vancouver has gone for an experimental approach. After John Tortorella previously drove the franchise into the ground, you can see why they are keen to avoid another big name mismatch.
While in principle the idea works, Green should be prepared for what’s in front of him. The Canucks are undergoing a daunting rebuild. Star quality is low and the Sedin twins are slowing down. Green is going to have to feast on scraps (unless Canucks score number one pick at the draft). He has young blood like Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and hopefully Olli Juleovi, however, this team otherwise is comprised of roster fillers and Loui Eriksson.
There is no doubting Vancouver’s intentions and their desire for one of their own to lead them back to glory. This sort of approach has backfired for other teams in the past. Remember when Edmonton Oilers hired AHL hot-shot Dallas Eakins? After two unhappy seasons and less than 36 wins- Eakins was back to obscurity. Hiring coaches without NHL experience is always a risk, but who knows maybe Green will break the mold?
Right now Vancouver needs answers quickly. Last season was embarrassing for fans at the Rogers Arena. There will be more dog days to come and Green will need to steady the ship.