In our next takeaway from the Vancouver Canucks’ 2018-19 season, we’ll look at how head coach Travis Green showed that he’s the right man for the job.
The Vancouver Canucks may have missed the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season, but the team showed signs of maturity and progress under second-year head coach Travis Green.
Green was hired to replace Willie Desjardins two years ago, tasked with coaching a rebuilding team with a handful of expensive veterans — and two future Hall of Famers in Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
There was only so much talent for Green to work with this season. The Canucks were hit hard by injuries all year, and only Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser were able to provide consistent scoring. The blue line simply wasn’t productive enough at either end of the ice.
And despite all of this, coach Green kept the Canucks in the playoffs up until March — only missing out by nine points to the Colorado Avalanche. In our No. 4 takeaway of 2018-19, we’ll look at how Green once again showed that he’s the right man to coach this team over the long run.
With the Sedin twins retired, Green didn’t have much to rely on in terms of veteran leadership outside of top blueliner Alexander Edler. Key players like Sven Baertschi, Brandon Sutter and Antoine Roussel — capable of strong locker room leadership — were hit with injuries. That left Green short-handed, and he ultimately had to hand out more responsibilities to the kids.
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
Simply put, Green’s decision to hand the keys over to his young players did wonders. Big time.
Horvat (27 goals and 64 points) enjoyed the best season of his career, and he looks more than ready to take over the captaincy next season. Green helped Horvat grow into a reliable two-way centre, and the Canucks have their new leader in the post-Sedins era.
After another frustrating season in 2017-18, Jake Virtanen entered with plenty of pressure to perform. Well, he finished with 15 goals and 25 points in 70 games. Had he played the whole year, “Big Jake” could have hit 20 for the first time in his career.
yThere’s good reason to believe he can do it next season. Green deserves plenty of credit for staying patient with the former first round pick.
Green was able to find a way to make Josh Leivo — acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Michael Carcone in December — fit into his lineup. Leivo found chemistry with Horvat and finished with 10 goals and 18 points in 49 games. There’s another potential 20-goal scorer to get excited about for next season.
Green turned over to Pettersson and tasked him with leading the offence on Day 1. Sure enough, Pettersson produced 28 goals and 66 points, and he should end up winning the Calder Trophy. The Canucks have their new star player to build around, and Green is here to see it happen.
Green also wasted no time in giving 2018 first rounder Quinn Hughes the opportunities when he arrived late in the season. Hughes finished with three assists in five games, and he looks more than ready for prime time next season. Good on coach Green for getting his future star blueliner some confidence and experience.
There’s obviously a lot of work to do here in Vancouver, but the Canucks organization and fans can relax in knowing that they have the perfect fit behind the bench. Green has already done so much in helping the young players develop, and he’s going to be here when the Canucks are ready to compete for championships again.