The AHL Utica coach and former NHLer will return behind the Comets bench next season, but he reportedly came close to getting the job in Anaheim – the job that ultimately went to prodigal son Randy Carlyle.
It may not happen immediately, but at some point Anaheim fans will want to remember this news: Travis Green, who has been pegged as the next in line for an NHL coaching job for a couple years now, could have been the Ducks’ bench boss for 2016-17.
In an article by Vancouver beat writer Ben Kuzma, Green reveals that he got pretty far in the process with Anaheim, but ultimately lost the gig to Randy Carlyle, the former Ducks coach who led the franchise to a Stanley Cup in 2007.
This is key, because Carlyle doesn’t have a very good track record in the NHL since winning that Cup. In both Anaheim and Toronto, his squads suffered in the possession department and seemed to play against the prevailing trends that led to success in the league.
In Green, you have a young mind who has been showered with praise by his players, but has also dealt with a lot of adversity in Utica. As Kuzma notes, the Comets were forced to use 49 different players this past season thanks to a combination of their injuries and call-ups due to injuries on the parent Vancouver Canucks. Yet Green still helmed the team to a playoff spot.
When it comes to advanced stats, the Comets were quite good. Their estimated Fenwick close percentage of 53.28 ranked third overall in the AHL, as did their shots-against (they were also top-10 in shots). So Green managed to wring out wins from a decimated squad and do so the right way. He also managed to do it without a lot of top-shelf talent; Hunter Shinkaruk was traded during the season and the team had a dearth of top-50 draft picks on the roster (Brendan Gaunce and a brief appearance by Jake Virtanen being exceptions).
So now, Green returns to Utica. He will likely have more talent to play with – including, perhaps, Virtanen, as well as super goalie prospect Thatcher Demko and NCAA champion free agent Troy Stecher on defense – and we have to assume fewer injuries. Eventually, an NHL team will come knocking and he will get his golden clipboard. And depending on how Carlyle is doing with the Ducks, the fans in Anaheim might let out an audible groan when it happens.