Fond Canucks Memories
Exactly two years to the day since being fired by the Canucks, former Vancouver head coach Travis Green will return to Rogers Arena as the associate coach of the New Jersey Devils. December 5th 2021, December 5th, 2023.
“A lot of great memories,” Green told Vancouver Hockey Insider this week. “Obviously at the end when you get fired, that’s never fun, but overall looking back, a lot of great memories, and learned a lot while coaching there. Nothing but good things to say about Vancouver and look forward to coming back.”
Regardless of the bizarre, coincidental timing, when Green arrives in Vancouver to face the Canucks he’ll be singularly focused on getting a win for one of the Eastern Conference’s burgeoning powerhouses. The Devils finished with the third most points in the NHL last season, 112, one point behind first place Carolina in the Metropolitan Division. They lost to the Hurricanes in the 2nd-round of the playoffs in five games.
“It’s exciting to be part of a group that’s not only a good team right now, but it’s still improving,” Green said. “There’s a lot of teams contending for the Stanley Cup, there’s a lot of teams that believe they have a chance, and as a team matures they learn a lot towards achieving that goal, and I think Jersey is one that has a chance in the future to win. Really, as a player and a coach, that’s your ultimate dream, to win the Stanley Cup. That’s the big reason why I’m excited about going into New Jersey to help.”
The opportunity to work with Devils head coach Lindy Ruff became available when Andrew Brunette left to take over the head coaching duties with the Nashville Predators.
Tom Fitzgerald, the Devils general manager who hired Green, played with him with the New York Islanders in 1992-’93, with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2002-’03, and again with the Boston Bruins in 2005-’06. “Fitzy”, who turns 55 in a week, is two-and-a-half years older than his friend with whom he, as he puts it, shares a bond.
“I had a short list, I talked to three other candidates as well,” Fitzgerald said, “At the end of the day, when you look at our team, the needs, the personalities, the communication style that they need, Travis has been through that. He’s coached for a long time as a head coach. I’m looking for someone who can support Lindy Ruff, who can challenge Lindy and the other coaches with different ideas. Think differently, and Travis can do that. He has conviction in what he believes in and that’s what I was looking for.”
Small Hockey World
Green will oversee the Devils power play while assistant coach Ryan McGill will handle the penalty kill. Both have Western Hockey League coaching roots. Green and the other assistant on the bench, Chris Taylor, were both drafted by the Islanders in the 2nd-round a year apart, played together in the American League and NHL, and crossed paths as AHL coaches.
“I’m really excited about coaching with the whole staff,” Green said. “Ryan’s well known around the league for his defensive teachings, and I’ve known “Taylz” and talked a lot of hockey with Taylz. Anytime you get to work with guys you respect and are known for their sharp minds, it’s exciting.”
Although Green didn’t know Ruff well personally, he’s coached against him and is obviously very familiar with his work. Former Devils forward Sergei Brylin, a three-time Stanley Cup champion who spent his entire NHL playing career with the franchise, returns as another assistant and will serve as the “eye in the sky” during games.
“I’m excited, it’s hard not to be,” Green stated. “When you talk about good young teams in the NHL, New Jersey is one of those that really built their team through the draft. They’ve done it the right way, Fitzy’s really done a good job, Lindy’s done a great job coaching and it’s an exciting group.”
“I think Travis has the whole package,” Fitzgerald concluded. “To be honest with you, I’m not sure how long I’ll have him.”
Green would like to be a head coach again, but his most important goal is winning a Stanley Cup. His opportunity to reach both of those targets begins again in New Jersey.
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