With an 0-2 start to the road trip and with zero goals scored, questions about Willie Desjardins’ future in Vancouver continue. I view him as a good coach in a poor situation, but I understand that firing him is a way to change the narrative.
Ask five people who the next Vancouver Canucks will be and I’ll bet four will say Travis Green. Green has coached the AHL Utica Comets for the past two seasons, and he was almost lost to the team twice over this past summer when he was linked to open jobs with the Anaheim Ducks and the Colorado Avalanche.
He has coached many of the prospects who have cycled through the Canucks system in the recent past. By all accounts he has done a great job with them, and they definitely look prepared when they get called up. Many smart people think he’s being groomed as Desjardin’s eventual replacement.
Maybe he is, but I’m not convinced.
I think it’s far from a slam dunk that Travis Green will be Willie Desjardins automatic replacement behind the Canucks bench. Especially if the Canucks feel compelled to make a change early this season. Jim Benning has to assume this may be the only coach he gets to hire in Vancouver. It doesn’t make sense to me that he would fire a highly touted coach with no NHL experience and replace him with the very same thing. Plus, promoting Green would require the team to find a new coach in Utica, disrupting the farm team.
Passing Green over for promotion would not be expected or popular among the usual suspects in the Vancouver hockey market. But if Benning is under orders to make the playoffs this season he doesn’t have the luxury to pick a coach who may pan out. Green could well be a successful NHL coach. But he might also be the next Dallas Eakins.
With that in mind, who are some available, experienced NHL head coaches? I wondered, too. So I compiled a list (all information from Wikipedia). This list is far from exhaustive, and if you see a name I missed, please include it in the comments.
Current: scouting for New Jersey
Noel has coached Winnipeg and Columbus during a six-year NHL head coaching career. He coached the WHL Vancouver Giants for part of he 2014-15 season. His NHL coaching record is 90-87-24. His teams never made the playoffs.
Current: Assistant coach, Tampa Bay Lightning
Current: Nothing I could find. In 2015, he joined TSN, but I’ve no idea if he’s still there.
Wilson started his coaching career as assistant to Bob McCammon and Pat Quinn in Vancouver. He was the first coach of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. He was fired by Toronto in 2012. Since then, he’s coached Team USA at various international competitions. His NHL coaching head coaching record is 648-561-101-91.
Current: Associate Coach, New York Rangers
Arniel coached Vancouver Canucks’ AHL affiliates in Manitoba and in Chicago. He was head coach in Columbus for a season and a half, compiling a 45-60-18 record.
Current: Associate Coach, Ottawa Senators
Crawford coached the Canucks from 1998-2006. He has coached NHL teams in Quebec, Colorado, Los Angeles and Dallas. His record is 549-421-100-77 in the regular season, 43-40 in the playoffs.
Current: Assistant Coach, Pittsburgh Penguins
Martin has an extensive head coaching record that includes stops in St. Louis, Ottawa, Florida and Montreal. His record is 613-481-119-81.
Current; Head Coach, Western Michigan Broncos (NCHC)
Murray replaced Larry Robinson as Los Angeles Kings coach in 1999, and coached there until 2006. He moved on to St. Louis in 2006 and was fired in 2010. Since 2012, he’s coached Western Michigan of the NCAA. his NHL record is 333-278-58-71.
Current: Assistant Coach, Anaheim Ducks
MacLean coached the Ottawa Senators from 2011-2015. He was nominated for the Jack Adams award for coach of the year in 2011-12 and he won the award in 2012-13. Overall, he has a 114-90-35 record as Senators coach.
Current: Chairman of Southampton FC of the English Premier League
Krueger coached the Edmonton Oilers for a season before being dismissed (via Skype) in favor of shiny penny Dallas Eakins. Silly Oilers. He was a 19-22-7 record from his one season as NHL head coach. He consulted with the Team Canada coaching staff at the 2014 Winter Olympics and he coached Team Europe at the recent World Cup. Since 2011 he has been a member of the World Economic Forum serving on a council on New Models of Leadership. If nothing else, Krueger is the coach I’d most like to have a cocktail with.
Current: Assistant Coach, Chicago Blackhawks
He coached the Florida Panthers from 2011-14. In 2011-12, he led the Panthers to their first Southeast Division title. After being dismissed by Florida, he coached the Canadian women’s olympic hockey team to a gold medal in 2014 at Sochi and the Canadian Women’s under 18 team to a bronze at the IIHF U18 World Championships. Dineen was Chicago’s assistant coach when they won the Stanley Cup in 2014-15.
Current: Head Coach, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
Gordon coached the New York Islanders from 2008 until he was fired mid-season in 2010. He was named an assistant coach in Toronto under Ron Wilson in 2011-12. His NHL head coaching record is 64-94-23.
Current: no job
Renney coached Vancouver in 1996-97 and was fired 19 games into the 1997-98 season. He then coached the New York Rangers from 2003-2009 and the Edmonton Oilers from 2010-2012. He has a distinguished record coaching Team Canada at a number of World Championships and Winter Olympics. His head coaching record is 260-255-9-68.
Current: no job
One of the most curious NHL head coaching records ever, Nolan coached Buffalo Sabres (1995-97, 2013-15) and the New York Islanders (2006-08). He was named Coach of the Year in 1996-97 after coaching Buffalo to a 92 point, first in the Northeast Division Finish. Despite that, he was fired. Rumors persist he is a GM killer, which I guess would suit some people in this market just fine. He owns a 188-227-57 coaching record.
I would be fine with Paul MacLean, Ralph Krueger or Kevin Dineen, though I wonder if any of them would want to leave their current situation to coach a transitioning Canucks team.