As it is seemingly every season these past few years in Vancouver, the discussion around town has been about a potential coaching change. Despite surprising many and making the post-season in his first year coaching the club, Willie Desjardins is now on the hot seat, as the Canucks fell into the bottom three of the NHL, missing the post-season with a disastrous 75-points.
A name that has floated around as a potential successor to Desjardins, is current head coach of the Canucks’ AHL affiliate – the Utica Comets – Travis Green. Green led the club to a Calder Cup Final in 2014-15, but has been, unfortunately, involved in rumors surrounding the Anaheim Ducks coaching vacancy. Should the Canucks lose Green to the Ducks, it would be a tremendous loss, as Green is a valuable asset to the organization, and one that would hurt to let go of.
The Impact and Importance of Travis Green
The obvious reason that the loss of Green would hurt, is the positive impact he’s had on the Comets throughout his tenure. Vancouver has always had issues on the development side of things, so seeing a guy like Green walk in and have the impact he’s had on numerous prospects is a refreshing sight. Under his guidance, now-Calgary Flame Hunter Shinkaruk broke out, backup goaltender Jacob Markstrom re-emerged as a top goaltending prospect, Alex Grenier established himself as a possible NHLer, as well as numerous other examples. One look at his track record tells you that Green could have a strong impact on the likes of Thatcher Demko, Carl Neill, or Jared McCann (should he go to the AHL) heading into next season. The Canucks’ prospect pool has strengthened since Green’s arrival, which of course partially has to do with the work of Jim Benning, but can also be accredited to his work with many of the up-and-comers down on the farm.
Another motivation for keeping Green would be that, in the event of a Willie Desjardins firing, Green would be a more than serviceable replacement. Considering his past history with many players that project to be on the Canucks next season – such as Markstrom, Brendan Gaunce, and Andrey Pedan – he would fit in seamlessly and help develop some flourishing youngsters. Additionally, someone with the pedigree among young skaters like Green has would be undoubtedly a good thing for the likes of Ben Hutton, Nikita Tryamkin, and Anton Rodin – all young players with little to no experience under Green. Many are speculating that the organization would like him to at least serve as an assistant coach over the next couple of seasons, and potentially develop into the next head coach of the club.
Travis Green is an immensely important asset to the Vancouver Canucks organization, and he is not someone they should let go. The team should do everything in their power to keep Green in some capacity, because long term, Green could prove to be a game changer. For a team that sees a rebuild in their future, Green is the way to go, and if they lose him, it would be a critical mistake.