The Canucks have done a lot of losing over the last few months.
Only the Toronto Maple Leafs lost more hockey games than the Canucks during the regular season. On April 30th when the draft lottery rolled around, the Canucks dropped down to fifth overall and missed out on snagging one of the best three prospects in hockey.
Now, they might lose a couple of coaches as well.
With a somewhat unexpected change in Cgy, it seems more likely Utica coach, Travis Green is going to land one of the NHL jobs.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) May 3, 2016
Bruce Boudreau was quickly snatched up by Minnesota, while former NHL head coaches Guy Boucher and Marc Crawford have found work in Ottawa.
That leaves vacancies in both Anaheim and Calgary. Also, the uncertain status of Darryl Sutter and Los Angeles Kings wafts over the Pacific Division, although it remains likely that he returns.
Without even mentioning the tight leash that Willie Desjardins has in Vancouver, there could be a very different look behind the benches on the West Coast next season. After the successful seasons enjoyed by the Ducks, Flames and Canucks in 2014-15, it’s intriguing to see that just a year later, those situations are much different.
Coaching jobs in the NHL have to be one of the least secure positions out there. That being said, could a few faces familiar to the Canucks organization fill the voids left in Anaheim and Calgary?
Green is a Hot Commodity
Travis Green’s name has surfaced in rumours linking him to the Ducks ever since Boudreau was fired following Anaheim’s disappointing playoff exit. Green played in Anaheim for parts of three different seasons in the early 2000’s, and during the beginning of the 2006-07 season. He’s played with current Ducks Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, as well as Todd Marchant (director of player development) and Scott Niedermayer (special assignment coach).
Green could also be a fit in Calgary, according to Bob McKenzie. Regardless, the current coach of the Utica Comets is one of the hottest commodities on the coaching market right now, and it shouldn’t be a surprise if the Canucks lose him over the summer.
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) May 6, 2016
Green has worked his way up the coaching ladder over the past few years, with successful stints both the Utica Comets and the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. This season in Utica, he helped a decimated Utica team make the playoffs, even though many players were bounced between the farm and the NHL. He also helped the development of young defenders such as Andrey Pedan and Jordan Subban.
There was debate in Vancouver whether the Canucks should rid themselves of Desjardins and give Green a shot at the head coaching gig in Vancouver last season. Those musings were squashed when Canucks President Trevor Linden came out and publicly put his support behind Desjardins, saying that he will return for his third season behind the bench in the fall.
It’s a tough situation for the Canucks, Linden, and Desjardins. On the one hand, Desjardins was instrumental in aiding the development of players such as Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi and Ben Hutton over the past two seasons. He was also applauded for helping the Canucks punch above their weight in 2014-15.
However, a playoff collapse against the Calgary Flames last year hurt his repertoire. He’s also been questioned for his use of underperforming players such as Linden Vey and Matt Bartkowski.
He has his flaws, but it’s hard to argue that he should be fired after one poor season where the Canucks were decimated by injuries. If the Canucks really believed that Green was a better coach than Desjardins, then it’s unlikely that Linden would have proclaimed his steadfast belief in Desjardins.
Confidence in Desjardins is slipping, but there’s no crystal ball that says Green comes in and rights the ship next season.
Don’t Forget Gulutzan
The former bench boss of the Dallas Stars is also drawing some NHL head coaching interest, specifically in Calgary. Gulutzan, who is the longest serving coach behind the Canucks bench at the moment, is a lesser-known candidate to fill one of the coaching voids at the moment.
His lone head coaching opportunity came with the Dallas Stars and lasted for two seasons. He was fired after the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign after missing the playoffs for the second straight season.
He became an NHL head coach at only 39-years-old. Just a couple years later, that opportunity might be knocking for Gulutzan once again.
Gulutzan has helped the Canucks boast one of the better penalty kill’s in the NHL over the last couple of seasons among other responsibilities. He spoke to The Province about working with Desjardins last year.
“Willie is very empowering, he’s very open to suggestions,” said Gulutzan. “He has an uncanny ability to see the game from the bench that I don’t have.”