Barring any major surprises, Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green will be behind the bench for a fourth season.
Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has never really indicated that the job of head coach Travis Green is in jeopardy.
It’s a topic that’s been discussed several times at The Canuck Way (which you can read about here, here and here). If the Canucks were to miss the playoffs for the third straight year, would Benning decide to make his third head coach hiring?
There was good reason for some to to believe that if Vancouver collapsed in the second half and missed out on the postseason, Benning would make a change. You just don’t see many coaches get that much time without reaching the playoffs.
Also, take a look at the list of big-named coaching candidates available right now: Mike Babcock, Bruce Boudreau, Gerard Gallant and Peter Laviolette, among others.
But given the circumstances, with the 2019-20 season on pause, it’s hard to envision Benning making a coaching change this summer. We don’t know if the season will resume, and if the Canucks would make the postseason.
The point is this: Whether the Canucks play another game or not in 2019-20, Green has earned at least one more year behind the bench. There was a frustrating slump in the month of February, but there has been far more good than bad under coach Green this year.
He completed the final piece of the top line by placing offseason pickup J.T. Miller with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser. Lo and behold, Miller easily smashed career-highs in goals (27) and points (72).
Green has also been instrumental in helping Jake Virtanen regain his confidence more and more with each passing year. The No. 6 overall pick from 2014 easily set career bests in goals (18) and points (36).
Rookie defenceman Quinn Hughes exceeded expectations with a whopping 53 points in 68 games. He and Cale Makar were neck-and-neck in the Calder Trophy race before the season pause. Coach Green handed Hughes plenty of responsibility from the get-go, and it paid off immensely.
And even while the Canucks were hit by injuries to key players — including Boeser, Josh Leivo, Jacob Markstrom and Alexander Edler — they never fell apart. Green kept this group together and had them in the postseason race the entire way.
Add it all up, and Benning has no reason to even think about moving on from Green in the offseason. If the regular season continues, and if Vancouver misses the playoffs, it still isn’t enough to convince me that this team would benefit from a coaching change.
Green has overseen the development of Vancouver’s core players, and everyone is buying into his message and system. The Canucks will be making some changes this offseason as a difficult salary cap situation looms, but they have every reason to give Green at least another year behind the bench.