Canucks name ex-NHLer, WHL champion Winterhawks bench boss Travis Green as coach of AHL’s Utica Comets
Travis Green, head coach of the Portland Winterhawks, during the Memorial Cup 2013 coaches press conference in Saskatoon on Wednesday, May 15, 2013. Green was named head coach of the American Hockey League's Utica Comets on Thursday, July 11, 2013.
Photograph by: Derek Mortensen, Canadian Press files
VANCOUVER — It's hard to think of two cities more different than Utica, NY, and Chicago. The change in the Vancouver Canucks' minor-league coach is equally dramatic.
The National Hockey League team named 42-year-old Travis Green to coach their Utica Comets farm team in the American Hockey League. Green, who grew up in Castlegar and played 14 seasons in the NHL, has less than one year of head-coaching experience in junior hockey.
The last three minor-league coaches hired by Canuck general manager Mike Gillis were Scott Arniel, Craig MacTavish and Claude Noel. They had extensive coaching resumes that included time as head coaches in the NHL.
“Travis brings a wealth of hockey knowledge and a winning pedigree to the role,” Gillis said in a Thursday press release announcing the appointment. “His experience as a player and immediate success as a head coach, guiding Portland to a WHL championship this past year, are tremendous assets to lead and develop our players and prospects in Utica.”
Green, an assistant GM/assistant coach to Mike Johnston in Portland, took over the formidable Winterhawks in November when the Western Hockey League suspended Johnston for player-benefit violations.
Under Green, the Winterhawks went 37-8-2 and won the WHL title before losing in the final of the Memorial Cup. He was an assistant for Johnston only one previous season after finishing his playing career in Switzerland in 2008, one year after the last if his 970 NHL games.
Green said he grew up cheering for the Canucks.
"It means a lot," he said of joining the organization. "To get this opportunity, I'm real excited about it. I have a lot of passion for the game. When I get into something, I'm all-in.
“I'm a loyal coach. I believe in my players. I feel it's important for them to know the coach is on their side. (But) accountability is big for me. I expect a lot out of my players and they're going to get a lot out of me."
The Chicago Wolves were Vancouver's minor-league affiliate the last two seasons, but Arniel chose not to move to Utica when the Canucks purchased their own farm team and relocated it from Peoria, Ill.
Green said he met with Gillis at the draft in New Jersey two weeks ago, and worked out a three-year contract with the Canucks last weekend.
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