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.