Photo Credit: The Coaches Site

Elliotte Friedman on Canucks Coaching Vacancy

Short is the list of NHL insiders with more cachet than Elliotte Friedman, and for good reason. He’s the gold standard for how to carry one’s self and always provides an interesting blend of analysis, insights and insider information to the table in an easily accessible and consumable fashion.

There’s perhaps no better example than in his weekly 30 Thoughts column for Sportsnet.ca. For these reasons, I’ll always try to bring his commentary on the Canucks to this space and try to elaborate on some of what he brings to the table.

This week, he touched on the Canucks’ coaching carousel. With the 14th of his 30 thoughts, Friedman said this of the changing landscape behind the bench in Vancouver.

Vancouver is an interesting one. On the weekend, there were rumours the Canucks would not consider experience as the most important factor when deciding upon a new head coach. It’s something Trevor Linden confirmed on Monday. That’s good news for Travis Green. The organization knows one thing: they will lose Green if they don’t hire him. His contract is up and he won’t be returning to AHL Utica.


Green did arguably his best coaching job there this past season. The Canucks were decimated by injuries, it affected his AHL roster and he still got it into the race. I’m told that internally Linden recognizes the NHL team did not provide enough support to its American League partner, and will change that. If Green does not get an NHL job, he may have a European option.

I’m not surprised the Canucks aren’t prioritizing experience in their coaching search. If the Canucks are looking at their immediate future and what it presents, I’m sure even they realize that this isn’t the most alluring option on the market. Convincing a coach with NHL bona fides and a developed resume could prove difficult, and will likely cost more than it’s worth to them.

It also makes sense in the context of Travis Green’s availability to the organization and wanting to keep that option in their pocket. The thing is, if they don’t hire Green, they’ll lose him. They almost did last season. It was down to the wire between Green and Randy Carlyle with the Anaheim Ducks last off-season, and they went with the latter.

The Canucks are a PR-conscious franchise, too, even if their actions don’t always reflect as much, and I’ve heard the thought of letting Green slip loose to another NHL franchise and watching him have success keeps them up at night.

I agree, too, that this year was Green’s best. I thought the circumstances he operated in last year were difficult, but they pale in comparison to this season. Curtis Valk isn’t even on an NHL contract, and Green had to play him as their first line centre. It seems like every player the Canucks signed for Utica the last off-season became a regular with the Canucks by November. He made the best of a raw deal.

Green is obviously the lead horse in the race for the Canucks’ coaching job. Let’s see how far that takes him.

  • Braindead Benning

    Tough call… He did a admirable job with less than skilled players provided and is definitely worth consideration however, like WD, he does lack NHL experience…

    I guess looking at the Canucks roster at this point I don’t really know if getting an experienced coach would really make a difference?

  • apr

    This decision better be quick, as this street goes both ways. There are openings in Florida and LA, Arizona may want a new coach, and there will likely be an opening once a playoff team gets bounced. Trotz is done if he loses in the first round to TO. Im fine with Green, but its clear from Benning, Sedins, and Linden that the team will integrate younger players in, if, and only if they are ready and dedicated. So, Goldobin can’t just float, Boucher has to be fit, and Jake has got to stop going to Beiber concerts. What we won’t see are the Chaput’s, Megna’s, and Skille’s of the world occupying the roster – but the Stewarts, Winnik, and Vanek’s who are legit NHL players who will get flipped. And while everyone loves to beat on the drum on meddling money hungry owners, this ownership annually spends up to the cap.

    • neal

      Coaching will not make a difference until Linden and the Sedins have left the building.It’s time for this team to develop talent with grit.Have a look at the teams playing for the cup.The Canucks have been going downhill since the 2011 facewash, and it’s not because a teammate wouldn’t jump in, it’s because the Sedins don’t want a physical team behind them it’s not their style.

  • Bud Poile

    With two more drafts away from absorbing enough young talent to be roster ready depth-wise the Canucks can afford to take a two year contract flyer on Green.
    He knows the players and mgmt.. Seems a logical choice.

    • Dirk22

      Well there it is folks. I do believe it was you who said they would be competitive by next year Mr. Poile – those are years 4 & 5 of Lindenning. In fact, we’ve spent countless posts that have revolved around that exact issue. I’ve even been called cruel names by you in your passionate defense that the Canucks are on the right track to compete in these very years. What’s happened? Tell me is hasn’t been all for naught. Is this a Trump-like ‘flip-flop’?

  • Pat Quinn Way

    Couple of thoughts here. Travis Green has frankly achieved less than Willie D did in the AHL and is known as being very similar in his approach too Desjardin. Green has also been passed on by numerous NHL teams so for me this is a non-starter. He isn’t good enough or qualified enough to take on such a hugely important job with the big club in its worst state for decades. In comparison, AV already had the Habs head coaching job on his resume when called up from the Moose to become our most successful coach ever.

    It’s laughable and bloody annoying that JD Burke nonchalantly keeps saying that the Canucks job is ‘undesirable’. Are you kidding me?! This is one of only 31 such jobs available on the whole planet and there are far more available candidates than there are jobs. Any unemployed coach would want to throw their hat in the ring at the sniff of an opportunity to coach an NHL team like Vancouver, regardless of the current plight of the club!

    What we should be looking for first and foremost IMO is an elite GM like DEAN LOMBARDI who is a proven winner with two cups and astute draft picks like Patrick Marleau, Christian Ehrhoff, Drew Daughty and Tyler Toffoli on his resume! #firebenningnow

      • Pat Quinn Way

        “The only thing that matter are the playoffs” – Bud the Dud
        What part of 2 Stanley Cups as GM don’t you get brain ache…

        Now run along and get a life as you were told loser Bud…
        “Bud has generally served to make the comment section an unwelcoming place not just for the authors but also for a lot of the commenters as well.” – Jackson McDonald

  • Peachy

    The Canucks are going to be terrible for the next three years. May as well use the time to see what Green can do, and hold him to a standard of development / team effort / systems rather than wins and losses.

    • tyhee

      Like you I’m not optimistic about the Canucks over the next few years.

      How much would Green be able to show what he can do if the Canucks are indeed going to be terrible for the next three years?

      In my view at this deep trough in the Canucks’ wave I wonder whether the Canucks’ head coaching job would be a good career choice for a bright young coach.

  • wojohowitz

    There`s a fine line between coaching in the best interest of the team and coaching with personal reputation as the priority and that`s the line Willie crossed. It seems the so-called experts think Willie did as well as he could under adverse conditions and he is in line for another shot with a NHL team. I don`t buy it myself and I`m amazed some think Willie did as good a job as possible. Will the next coach put his ambition ahead of developing the youngsters and losing or will they all dictate winning every game is the first priority?

    The hype with Green reminds me of Dallas Eakins – the last so-called can`t miss coaching prospect. Are the Canucks really going to sell the fans on a rookie coach?

  • I am Ted

    Ah yes, good old Butthole Burke at it again. When will you stop your assault on the English language and grammar in general?!

    My first choice for Canuck coach was Gallant. I think Green is fine and the key is to develop the kids properly. Fans that are expecting a contending team are as stupid as Butthole Burke/NM00. This is a rebuild. Benning needs to add to the prospect pool and continue this trend for a bit. I will support the rebuild!

    I know the CA bloggers will criticize every little move and I expect nothing more. Let’s get it on!

    • Peachy

      Do you think that people read your post and think to themselves “Ah! What a fine ad hominem, this Ted is a voice to be listened to and a man of character”?

      I’m curious.

        • Saundero

          If you don’t care what people think, why bother posting on message boards then? Strikes me as a big “look at me! look how smart I am!” approach. Smacks of lack of self-confidence. And I know you won’t respond, since you don’t care what people think….

  • Ronning4ever

    Curious if the author (or any commenter) knows if Green fits the definition of a “progressive” or “conservative” coach?

    The only move I followed was him refusing to play McKenzie when he was signed to a professional tryout. I think some of the ECHL players were also heathy scratches a bunch.

    • tyhee

      Different folks may treat those adjectives differently when it comes to coaching.

      What follows below is largely based on a close following of news reports and reports that come frequently (at least every game) from posters on various forums. I haven’t seen enough to be able to base conclusions on my own limited observations.

      Some aspects of Green’s coaching probably resemble those of Desjardins. With a poor team he had his players playing a defensibly responsible style. Those that had trouble adjusting to that style got some time off in the pressbox to observe and think about how to improve their play. He hasn’t tended to rush kids into starring roles in the lineup and players can move up and down the lineup based on performance with little or no regard to reputation, draft position or past performance. I think some of the deployment decisions Desjardins made that people in Vancouver largely disagreed with would be decisions that Green would make as well.

      There are differences, of course. My sense is that Green isn’t as likely as Desjardins was in 2014-15 to roll 4 lines relatively evenly. One can’t accuse Desjardins of trying to roll 4 lines evenly this season, though, so that may not be as much of a change as would appear from Desjardins’ reputation.

      I also have the impression that Green, despite requiring his players to be defensibly responsible, might be a little more flexible than WD was when it comes to offensive creativity. The key words there, though, are “a little.” Green, too, requires defensive responsibility.

      Green in interviews seems upbeat and when he criticizes it is almost not like criticism but speaking of areas in which players can work on to reach the next level of play. He’s been given three poor (or worse) rosters in his three seasons and given that seems to have done a remarkable job of making the Comets competitive.

      • kagee

        Seems like Green liked to play his vets too on the farm, bringing along slowly Cassels and Virtanen, doesn’t rush em along. But he did work with them well making them both two-way stalwarts, 200ft game types.

  • To hire a coach based on his availability rather than estimated level of success is a terrible hiring criteria. If he’s not the best choice, they should be prepared to let him coach elsewhere. There are some associate coaches (coaches who are between head coach and assistant coach in an org chart) who have really good credentials such as Todd Reirden in Washington and John Stevens in LA. Washington had the 4th best power play and Reirden was responsible for the defensive corp and PP. LA had the 5th best penalty kill and Stevens was responsible for defence. Green should be an assistant and associate coach in the NHL before being given a head coach position. Let’s look beyond Green and the other unemployed head coaches and look to the guys who can grow as a head coach along with the next Canuck core.

    • kagee

      100% agreed, “Green should be an assistant and associate coach in the NHL before being given a head coach position.”
      and the Canucks should look to hire a young coach who has put in his dues as an assistant/associate coach under some good NHL coaches, such as you alluded to Todd Reirden or John Stevens.

  • Killer Marmot

    Demanding NHL experience is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, you get a coach who has experience in the very league that he will be coaching. On the other hand, most will not be top drawer, as presumably they were let go for a reason.

    If you want a REALLY good coach, you’re going to have to take a chance at someone from the minors or an assistant coach from the NHL.

    • crofton

      Every coach has been “let go”, barring possibly a few like Arbour and Bowman, and I’m too lazy to check on them even. Getting fired by and NHL team is NOT a stigma

  • Fred-65

    This is the appointment will be the hill Vcr management dies on he they best get it right. Although they have no need to offer bench marks for next season you can only assume Aquaman will demand that. I don’t for a moment think he just throws them his wallet to them and says go at it boys 🙂

  • Whackanuck

    It’s not just the head coach, as the firing of Lidster and Pearn suggests. Linden and Benning need to look at an upgrade of the whole coaching staff.

    I thought Green has said he’s not interested in an assistant coaching job. Personally, I’d like a group from outside the Canucks family. With some of the firings there ought to be a decent selection of good assistants.

  • Sandpaper

    It doesn’t matter who gets hired as coach no one will be happy with the choice. You know …because Canucks fans, we are never satisfied with things that pertain to our team.