Vancouver Canucks Should Hire Travis Green as Head Coach TODAY

Nov 7, 2015; Buffalo, NY, USA; Vancouver Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins watches play from the bench during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 7, 2015; Buffalo, NY, USA; Vancouver Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins watches play from the bench during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

 Forget Darryl Sutter and Ralph Krueger. Travis Green is the Vancouver Canucks’ ideal new head coach, and they should hire him before someone else does.

After firing Willie Desjardins, the Vancouver Canucks need to find themselves a new head coach.

There are a few other recently-fired coaches on the market who look like attractive candidates. Two of those — Gerard Gallant and Ken Hitchcock — have already been hired. But others, such as Darryl Sutter and Lindy Ruff, are still available. There are also a trio of former Edmonton Oilers coaches to consider, in Ralph Krueger, Dallas Eakins and Todd Nelson.

Trevor Linden stated that the team will try to have their new coach in place by the Entry Draft, which begins June 23. But despite a plethora of worthy candidates and a deadline that is several months away, there really is no reason for a lengthy search. Utica Comets coach Travis Green is an ideal candidate, and they should waste no time bringing him on board.

Here are a few quick reasons why the Canucks should hire Green as their head coach right away.


More from Editorials

First, Green has shown the organization a lot of loyalty in the past two seasons. In 2014, when the Pittsburgh Penguins fired Dan Bylsma and hired Mike Johnston, they offered Green a job as Johnston’s assistant. It would have been a quick promotion for a coach who had just finished his first season as an AHL head coach. And he also would have been coaching a Penguins team with perennial Cup aspirations.

Still, Green turned the job down and chose to return to the Comets.

As the Canucks plummeted from 103 points in Desjardins’ first season to 75 his second, Jim Benning had many opportunities to dump Willie and bring in Green. But, management stuck by their first hire, gave him a vote of confidence before 2015-16 had even ended, and stuck with him through another tough season in 2016-17.

Green, for his part, has never uttered a word of complaint, but dutifully paid his dues in the American league, awaiting his chance to be an NHL head coach.

That time has now come.

Done a lot with little

Like their parent club, the Utica Comets struggled to score goals all season long.

Unlike the Canucks, though, they stayed in the playoff race right to the bitter end. It wasn’t until they went 1-4 in the final two weeks of their season that the Comets’ fate was sealed. They missed the playoffs by just three points.

And Green was able to coach the Comets that far, despite having a severely depleted roster. His leading scorer was journeyman Darren Archibald, who scored 47 points in 76 games. Hunter Shinkaruk and Brendan Gaunce — two of his key scorers from last season — did not return to the Comets this year. And depth signings Jayson Megna and Michael Chaput spent most of the year with the big club.

All of Vancouver’s key prospects, save Thatcher Demko and Jake Virtanen, are either in college, junior, overseas, or else playing in the NHL. Olli Juolevi, Nikita Tryamkin, Adam Gaudette, Brock Boeser… none of these players were available to the Comets, who could have desperately used them. Still, Green worked magic with a team that was often forced to dress multiple defensemen as forwards.

Not to mention that, under Green the Comets made an improbable run to the Calder Cup finals in 2015.

More starts for Markstrom

Speaking of that playoff run, the goaltender for the 2015 playoffs was none other than Jacob Markstrom.

There has been talk of bringing Ryan Miller back for another season, rather than hand the net over to the still-untested Markstrom. But, if new head coach Travis Green has any say in the matter, it’s possible Vancouver could save themselves some money and instead trust the younger goalie.

Related Story: Canucks Should Hire Darryl Sutter

After all, the last time Green coached the young Swede, Markstrom gave him 23 playoff starts, with a 2.11 goals-against average and .925 save-percentage. There is plenty of familiarity between the two, and there should be trust as well.

The same goes for Sven Baertschi, who was Green’s leading goal-scorer in the those playoffs.

Fans are clamoring for a coach who will “play the kids”. Green has already built a relationship with a number of them, and they have played well for him in the past. With him at the helm, fans may get to see Markstrom get his shot as a number one goalie, and see other young players in expanded roles.

If the Canucks don’t, someone else will

Finally, there is this: unlike previous years, management know that Green will not return to the Comets next season. His contract there is now over. So, if the Canucks don’t offer him their NHL job — and soon — he will end up with some other organization.

Last summer, Green was linked to the Colorado Avalanche in rumors. He interviewed with the Calgary Flames. And he narrowly missed out on the Anaheim Ducks’ gig. Clearly, he is a coach that NHL teams are interested in hiring. That interest will only increase now that he is no longer under contract to the Comets.

Next: Leading Candidates for New Head Coach

So, why should the Vancouver Canucks wait? After missing out on those NHL opportunities last year, Travis Green happily returned to the Comets for another year. His team punched above its weight in the standings, and he will likely trust goaltender Markstrom more than his predecessor.

By all means, Linden and Benning should interview other candidates. But they shouldn’t take too long to hire Green, or their loss will be another team’s gain.