The Vancouver Canucks appear to have found their man, as they are reportedly close to finalizing a contract with Travis Green to be their new head coach.
VAN close to finalizing contract with Travis Green to be new head coach. Assuming no last-minute hiccups, announcement in next day or two.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) April 25, 2017
The contract, Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy reports, is likely to be a four-year deal. TSN 1040’s Matt Sekeres is reporting that former Canucks defenceman Nolan Baumgartner, who was Green’s assistant in Utica, will make the leap to the NHL as well.
Green has been groomed for this.
The 46-year-old has never coached in the NHL, but he’s done virtually everything else to qualify him for the job. Last year he was reportedly interviewed for multiple NHL head coaching vacancies, only to come up just short.
A veteran of 970 NHL games as a player with the Islanders, Ducks, Coyotes, Maple Leafs, and Bruins, the responsible two-way centre moved into coaching in 2009.
After two seasons as an assistant with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, Green took over as a midseason replacement in 2012-13, winning a championship that season.
The following year, he was hired by then-Canucks GM Mike Gillis to take over as head coach of Vancouver’s new AHL affiliate in Utica. In four seasons with the Comets, Green has found a way to get a lot out of a roster that has been seriously lacking talent.
With an undermanned roster in his first year in upstate New York, Green’s team finished with a respectable 35-32-9 record.
The following season, the native of Castlegar, BC was given a bit of talent to work with and it certainly helped. With a roster that included Jacob Markstrom in goal, the Comets had a 47-20-9 regular season record and went to the Calder Cup Final.
In 2015-16, Utica made the playoffs once again, but this time with a more modest 38-26-12 record and a first-round playoff exit.
The Comets were eliminated from playoff contention on the final day of the regular season this year with a 35-32-9 record, despite a depleted roster caused by a run of injuries to the Canucks.
In the end, Green was a logical choice for the Canucks. He’s a young coach who has earned a shot at the NHL level.
He’s familiar with much of the Canucks’ roster, having coached many of their players in the AHL. Green will have his work cut out for him in Vancouver, although he’s certainly used to that.
*Update: The Canucks will announce their new head coach at a media conference on Wednesday morning.