The bittersweet evolution of the Vancouver Canucks, 47 years in the making, has brought the hockey club to this very point, the www.eraneta.com/james-neal-c-1_10.html point when the young boy from Castlegar, B.C., who used to cheer for Stan Smyl and Dave Babych and thrilled to the sight of Steve Bozek jogging down his hometown streets doing summer workouts is now in charge.
Travis Green is that boy from Castlegar. Born the same year the Canucks were, he is many things. The junior hockey star who by his own reckoning didn’t understand what it meant to be a good player. The young pro who as a Coyote and a Maple Leaf learned that he really liked to win. The apprenticing coach who turned down a quick return to the five-star hotels and first-class travel of the NHL because he wanted to be a head coach, not an assistant.
Now, as head coach of the Canucks, he is introducing a new sentiment to Vancouver hockey, a diverse, intense sporting culture that has never known a Stanley Cup championship, a culture that wanted a parade and got a riot instead.
Green is now here to straighten all this out, to make it all make sense after all that has happened. He’s not Mike Babcock, arriving in Toronto with Cup rings and Olympic gold medals. He’s not a “winner,” at least not yet, but he sure seems to have a pretty good idea how to become one.
The Canucks have been far more successful in the early part of this NHL season than anyone thought they’d be — fueled by encouraging signs from rookie Brock (Brocket) Boeser and shocking contributions from the likes of Derek Dorsett — and Green is the object of some fascination on the Lower Mainland.
If you knew him as a player, particularly through the first few hundred of his 970 NHL games, you’d be forgiven if you’re surprised he’s in this position at all. Green just never seemed the type, but now he’s like the hippie of the sixties who grew up, got married, got a mortgage, and now looks back at his youthful indiscretions with some chagrin.
“Looking back, I’m embarrassed about the player I was,” he says. “As I young guy, I didn’t know how to work, how to train. I just had a meeting with one of my players and I told him I scored 70 points in 69 games but I wasn’t a very good player. I was better player when I scored 10 goals.”
“I know this. Travis Green the head coach would pull his hair out over Travis Green the 20-year-old. And Travis Green the 20-year-old might not like the 46-year-old version very much.”
Green did score 25 goals one year with the Islanders, and repeated that as a Coyote. By the time he arrived in Toronto for the first of two stints as a Leaf, he was a grinding centre, often out there in the middle of trouble as part of a line with Darcy Tucker and Shayne Corson.
After a brief stint in the Swiss league, he www.goldenknightsprosale.com/tyler-wong-c-1_24.html was done as a player by 2008. He remembered the suggestion by one of his coaches in Toronto, Paul Maurice, that he might make a good coach. By 2012, he was behind the bench of the WHL Portland Winterhawks in place of the suspended Mike Johnston, and guided the team to the Memorial Cup championship game.
“Mike taught me the art of coaching,” he says. “Preparation, running a practice, speaking to a team, putting a video session together, I learned all that from Mike.”
Then came four years in Utica, Vancouver’s farm club, which included turning down offers to go back to the NHL as an assistant. Last summer, after firing Willie Desjardins, the Canucks decided to give the job to the boy from Castlegar.
Green believed the Canucks needed to play faster, develop more depth and internal competition, and create more offence. To do that, he knew he needed to have a conversation with the Sedin twins. Specifically, Green needed to convince Daniel and Henrik to accept less ice time.
“I have always coached by being honest, putting your cards on the table,” he says. “I remember being nervous when it came time to talk to them. You do wonder how it’s going to be.
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