Travis Green finally signed a contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks, but it never should have gotten to this point.
In any other normally functioning organization, Green is offered a contract extension after his success in the Edmonton Bubble. It earns the teams some more good PR points, the hockey operations team is aligned heading into the draft and free agency, and a potential dark cloud and distraction over the season are no longer possible.
Of course, that isn’t what happened. Green was left to twist in the wind for the vast majority of the season, left to talk about sensitive subjects like the Virtanen sexual assault case on his own, and had no incentive to “play the kids” down the stretch.
So why did management drag their feet on bringing back Travis Green? The only thing I can think of is they were not sure about the future of management for much of this season. This says to me:
- Ownership wanted to replace Jim Benning, but couldn’t find anyone given their reputation around the NHL. That’s concerning for the future of the franchise.
- Ownership was not willing to pay Benning to do nothing (which has been reported from the likes of Farhan Lalji) so they decided to bring Green back to keep some continuity with the current management. The franchise has scaled back a lot of its spending since the COVID-19 pandemic, so that is possible.
- The players’ comments publicly at the end of media availability about Green got them to switch course. Perhaps they wanted to see that they were listening to their players given that communication was one of the big critiques of the organization surrounding their COVID-19 outbreak.
Whichever one is most likely true — or even if it is some combination of the three — it shows a lack of planning from this hockey club.
It’s not that crazy to suggest that if the plan was to get a new GM, they would want some say on a new coaching staff. It happens all the time. However, I don’t think ownership knew all this until very recently though, which shows there is really no plan with this team at the moment.
The Green situation bled all throughout the season, and it likely had an effect on the team. If Green is secure about his future, especially later in the season, is he more willing to play a prospect like Jack Rathbone earlier and in more situations? Owner Francesco Aquilini specifically mentioned the young defenseman in his letter to season ticket holders, so wouldn’t you want to showcase him down the stretch and see if he can handle different situations in the NHL?
Delaying the Travis Green extension until just yesterday was a wholly avoidable situation by the ownership and management of this team, and unfortunately, the same situation is repeating itself with goaltending coach Ian Clark. Not getting this deal done until after the season is done in such hasty fashion shows that this organization lacks a coherent plan from top to bottom.