The playing career of Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green

29 Oct 1997: Travis Green #39 of the New York Islanders in action during a game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Molson Center in Montreal, Canada. The Islanders defeated the Canadiens 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Robert Laberge /Allsport
29 Oct 1997: Travis Green #39 of the New York Islanders in action during a game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Molson Center in Montreal, Canada. The Islanders defeated the Canadiens 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Robert Laberge /Allsport /

The head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, Travis Green, enjoyed a lengthy career in the NHL. Let’s take a closer look at the playing career of the Canucks bench boss.

Although you wouldn’t know it from any of his press conferences or media scrums, Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green has a great sense of humour. Just ask his former teammate, Mike Johnson. On Wednesday, May 8th, Johnson was on TSN1040 talking about the Vancouver bench boss and said the following:

"Travis Green, he was hilarious (as a teammate). On the planes, the dressing rooms, the dinners, he wouldn’t stop cracking jokes. And I see him now, and he’s such a coach. No fun at all. I don’t want to blow his cover in Vancouver, but he’s a super funny guy"

Every so often, we see Green show a bit of this sense of humour that Johnson says was on full force during Green’s playing days. I heard this quote and thought, what else did the playing career of Travis Green entail?

Born in Castlegar, British Columbia, Travis Green played 970 games in the NHL — and came up just shy of hitting the one-thousand game mark. Green got his start playing junior hockey roughly three hours south of the 49th parallel with the Spokane Chiefs for four seasons.

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In the 1988-89 season with the Chiefs, Green’s draft year, he scored 51 goals and picked up 51 assists. After that 102 point season, Green was selected in the second round, 23rd overall by the New York Islanders at the 1989 NHL Entry Draft.

In the 1989-90 season, Green was traded to the Medicine Hat Tigers, recorded 39 points in 25 games. That would be Green’s fourth and final season in the WHL. For the next three years, Green joined the Capital District Islanders of the American Hockey League, and in his third and final year in the AHL, he was over a point per game player.

That was good enough to see 61 games with the Islanders, where he netted 7 goals, complemented by 18 assists in his rookie year. The best year of Green’s playing career, however, came in the 1995-96 season, where Green reached his career high in goals, assists, and points. Green was establishing himself in the NHL, and was beginning to play a bigger role on the Islanders.

In that same year, a young Travis Green, sporting a terrific mullet, did a one on one interview with Stan Fischler in which he mentioned that his favourite city to visit is Phoenix — the city where the Winnipeg Jets moved to when they were rebranded as the Coyotes. That’s a bit of foreshadowing from Green, as he would eventually go on to play two seasons in the desert with the Coyotes from 1999-2001.

Green won a silver medal with Team Canada at the World Hockey Championship in 1996, and won gold at the tournament the following year in 1997. Green was a point per game player in the 1996 tournament, where he scored five goals and three assists in eight games. In the 1997 tournament, Green had nine points in 11 games.

After his time with the Islanders came to an end in the 1997-98 season, Green played two seasons with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, where he saw a bit of a dip in production, scoring just 18 goals and picking up 28 assists in 101 games over the course of his two seasons spent with the Ducks. Green later returned to the Ducks in 2006-07 where he played seven games.

After his first two-year stint with the Ducks, Green packed up and went to the desert, where he rediscovered his scoring touch playing for the Phoenix Coyotes. In his first season with the Coyotes, Green scored 25 goals, matching his career high from the 1995-96 season. That season would mark the last time Green ever scored more than 20 goals in a season.

After his time in Phoenix, Green played two seasons each for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. Green signed a deal with the Anaheim Ducks in the 2006-07 season, but as mentioned earlier, played just seven games with the Ducks before he was claimed off waivers by the Maple Leafs, where he played his final 24 NHL games. Green failed to record a point in any of those games with the Leafs.

Once his NHL career had come to an end, Green played one season with Zug EV of the National League — the highest tier of hockey in Switzerland. In 29 games in the Swiss league, Green picked up 20 points. As we all know, Green would begin a coaching career in 2008, where he was an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks.

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It was a successful playing career for the Canucks bench boss that I’m sure he’s proud of. Although, he was never able to win a Stanley Cup in his playing days, so I’m sure he would love to win one someday with the Canucks, hopefully fairly soon.