Vancouver Canucks: An open letter to head coach Travis Green

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Here’s a tip for Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green: storylines are the lifeblood of an NHL franchise.

Dear Travis Green,

I’m certainly no one special you need heed, just an average Vancouver Canucks lifer, no more than a barometer as far as you might be concerned. However, I beg of you, allow me a few moments for entertainment’s sake, please.

After all, Francesco Aquilini owns a business where the main goal is to profit from entertaining hockey fans, and you are in fact his asset in that endeavour.

Today I’m addressing the idea that no one is bigger than the team and suggesting that this especially applies to coaches, in my self-esteemed opinion, as you’re all top dogs barking out orders from behind the players’ bench, acting like drill sergeants, demanding results.

I’m sure, being from B.C., you’re well aware of the gravity of the John Tortorella situation, so I needn’t go into much detail about how he benched Roberto Luongo at the 2014 Heritage Classic and lost us the best-ever-so-far Canucks goaltender in an ego-takes-all battle that ended up hurting the fans most.

That day Torts failed to observe the greater storyline than himself, and instead decided to impose his will on the lineup, and inadvertently imposed on the future of the franchise, as was only his right to do. To have the right doesn’t mean it’s wise to exercise.

Interest in the team is not easily earned and is an entity that compounds over decades, yet on that one day so much was lost following one single decision of a coach. Lest we forget. Vancouver fans lost their hero that day, which I guarantee was not in the best interests of the brand. One of our favourite narratives was suddenly flushed out from our stream of consciousness.

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Tortorella should have respected the significance of that moment. Instead, he proved reckless with his responsibility, had to be that guy, whatever the cost, at the centre of attention. Ego has no place in coaching when fans are the bottom line.

Take Jim Benning, for example, who doesn’t seem to bring his ego into the job at all. I’m impressed that he hasn’t fired the whole lot of Mike Gillis’ old hires but instead promoted the likes of Judd Brackett to director of scouting and even yourself to head coach of the Canucks.

As long as Benning has great talent in front of him, he’s gonna use it because that’s exactly how one delivers the best results. Benning manages his own ego before managing the team, which may actually be his most valuable skill as an entertainment producer.

To that end, thank the gods I’m only a fan and not a GM, as we both know this letter is really just about me and my own ego, how I don’t like your lineup decisions and why my brilliant opinion should actually matter. Well, it does, Travis. It does.

Before I get on with it, let me wax on a bit further how you’re a BC boy, like myself, only a handful of years older than me, and so, no doubt you’ll understand why I’ve been an impassioned Canucks fan ever since King Richard Brodeur played out of his mind during that legendary 1982-playoff run. Winning with hot goaltending is like catching lightning in a bottle.

Never disregard the power of an electric storyline, as Brodeur and his Bad News Bears captured my imagination for a lifetime, and perhaps yours, as well. Am I right, Travis?

This may sound strange but think about it for a moment. Electricity is consciousness. Provide us with electric storylines and the city will eventually enshrine you with a statue. I promise.

Heed me not for I buy no season tickets, not even the more affordable ticket packages. I’m just a blue-collar fan who only goes to a few random games every year for family birthdays or what else, and more if we make it into the second round or beyond, hoping to witness something special. Like so many other rabid Canucks fans, I must’ve watched 80 per cent of all the televised games every season since forever, and always tried to catch on the radio what I may have missed on TV.

On the other hand, whenever the Canucks fail to make the playoffs, I’m onto the offseason instantly and couldn’t care less what happens in the playoffs. Those are not my storylines. Well, maybe I’ll tune in for the final handshake and raising of the Cup, but generally, for me, it’s Canucks or bust.

Am I right, Canucks fans? And maybe I’m talking more to fans who weren’t born in some other hockey market, who didn’t start their lives cheering for the Flames or something weird like that.

Travis, when you landed on the scene in Vancouver a couple of years ago, I was excited for you. I had been following your career with the Utica Comets for a few years already.

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Overall you did a pretty good job with the Canucklets, especially that one year, 2014-15, when Jacob Markström put the farm on his back and went on a run all the way to the final round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

The Comets had great goaltending from Markström that season, though merely a decent stable of skaters that would need great coaching if they were ever to get anywhere. Of course, your buncha bandits exceeded expectations, regardless of the deeper Manchester Monarchs squad that eventually won the series 4-1, dashing your hopes for a championship title.

Your promotion to the bigs came while youth was being served in Vancouver, yet it was still in the shade of the Sedin twins Henrik and Daniel‘s looming retirement.

The market was captured by the magic of the twins’ storyline – a people and their two greatest heroes. For many a moment during those last two home games, the Canucks’ legacy was on full display, loud and proud.

The whole hockey world stopped to take notice as our incredible plot thickened and finally reached its crescendo, undoubtedly paying the brand forward with increased fan interest and respect for decades, even internationally.

Obviously, there was no way you’d ever pull a Torts Classic in a moment like that, so I speak in contrast. Instead, you stood back in awe of the moment and helped to deliver that incredible storyline to the fandom, like the entertaining asset you were hired to be.

It was awesome to hear you after the Sedins’ final home games, when you spoke to the immensity of the moment, delivered excellent breakdowns of it all, and honoured the Sedins for being selfless professionals. “Travis Green gets it,” I thought to myself with a profound sense of Canucks pride.

I was at that second last home game of the Sedins’ careers when fans had first learned of their pending retirement, and the spontaneous outpouring inside Rogers Arena was unreal. Holy moly, it still moves me today.

Travis, you are definitely a great voice for the franchise in the good times and bad, a hockey mind through and through, fair and well-spoken.