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Travis Green departs Portland Winterhawks, joins Vancouver Canucks as minor-league coach

Travis Green coached the Portland Winterhawks at the MasterCard Memorial Cup in May (CP)

Travis Green already has an impressive head coaching resume. In his lone season as a head coach, he won a championship. Green led the Portland Winterhawks to the Ed Chynoweth Cup last season after the WHL suspended coach-GM Mike Johnston for the year in the wake of the Winterhawks' illegal benefits fiasco.

He'll now be taking his talents to upstate New York, getting his first shot as a head coach in training camp with the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League. Utica is where the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL eventually settled on an AHL team after a three-year long shuffle to replace the long-term agreement they had with the Manitoba Moose. The Moose's ownership group wound up buying an NHL team, and the Canucks were unsuccessful in forging a relationship with the notoriously independent Chicago Wolves. They purchased the Peoria Rivermen earlier in the summer, and settled on Utica, NY. There are still rumours that the Canucks are still looking to set up shop for their affiliate in nearby Abbotsford.

But Green should have some job security. The Canucks did sign a six-year deal with Utica, so if they do have longer-term plans in some other area, Green likely won't be along for the ride. The Canucks have previously employed Randy Carlyle, Alain Vigneault, Scott Arniel, Claude Noel and Craig MacTavish as their minor-league coach, so Green joins a pretty good line of future bench bosses and team executives.

Per The Province:

When the Canucks purchased the Peoria Rivermen from the St. Louis Blues on April 18, the obvious intention was to stock the AHL roster with their own talent and develop prospects from within, rather than sharing an affiliation like they had done the previous seasons with the Chicago Wolves and Manitoba Moose. The 42-year-old Green played for seven NHL teams. The Castlegar native collected 193 goals and 455 points in 970 regular-season games. The 23rd overall pick in the 1989 draft by the Islanders has also served as an assistant general manager and assistant coach to Johnston with the Winterhawks. Moving up to the AHL and allowing Johnston to move back behind the Portland bench makes sense on several levels.

Ben Kuzma also notes the connection between Canucks assistant general manager Lorne Henning and Green back when the two were with the New York Islanders in the early 1990s. Henning was an assistant coach at the time.

As for Green's record, well, the Winterhawks finished at 57-12-3 and were 20-4-1 prior to the sanctions. That's a mildly impressive 37-8-2 record as the bench boss for Green, plus a 16-5 playoff record enroute to a 3-2 record at the MasterCard Memorial Cup in Saskatoon.

The Winterhawks are known for their offence—and they generated NHL draftees in Seth Jones, Nic Petan, Oliver Bjorkstrand—Green's influence certainly helped the team become much more well-rounded and ready to compete with Edmonton in the WHL finals. In 2011-2012, the Winterhawks had a goal differential of +99, 1st in the WHL in goal scoring but just 10th in goals against. This past season, their goal differential was a +165 and they were 1st in the WHL in goal scoring again but 2nd behind only Edmonton in goals allowed. That had a hand in backup goaltender Brenden Burke being drafted by his hometown Phoenix Coyotes.

The sanctions against Johnston meant he could not spend time with the team or travelling with the team, so Green deserves a lot of credit for being the bench boss of record as Seth Jones became Central Scouting's No. 1 prospect in June. Johnston set the table nicely for Green, but the interim coach cooked a pretty nice meal and was rewarded by moving up in the hockey world.

As for the sanctions, Taking Note's Gregg Drinnan has a post up today about the sanctions levied against the Winterhawks last season:

according to the agreement between the QMJHL team and the player in question, “The Club will provide US$3,000 per season to defray costs of Player’s family to travel to (the team’s city) during the time the Player is with the Club.”

There is nothing in the WHL’s standard player agreement covering such expenses. A player’s travel expenses incurred in reporting to the team and returning home at season’s end, and a return trip at Christmas, will be paid by his WHL team.

The WHL apparently has a set of rules and regulations in which it is stated that paying parental travel expenses is against the rules. However, the WHL has never shown those rules, regulations or bylaws to the media, despite repeated requests, especially from working media in the Portland area.

Basically, half of the things that the Winterhawks admitted they were culpable of were either legal in the QMJHL, or the QMJHL head office doesn't closely read the contracts that their teams offer to players. That same QMJHL team, according to Drinnan, provided a $2,500 allowance "to defray the costs of the Player's off-season conditioning".

UPDATE - Here is the Winterhawks' statement on Travis Green's departure. The quotes and the Thank Yous lie ahead:

“I’m incredibly proud of everything we achieved in the five years I was here, but I feel I’m ready to take the next step and become a head coach,” said Green. “We built a championship team and a culture of winning here, and they’re lessons I will take with me for the rest of my career. I’m grateful to Bill Gallacher, Mike Johnston and the entire organization for the opportunity to begin my coaching and management career with the Winterhawks.”

“Travis has done a terrific job with the Winterhawks as a coach and also on the management side,” said Portland Winterhawks General Manager & Head Coach Mike Johnston. “He’s played an integral part in our success, and like our players it’s great to see him move on and get a professional opportunity. We wish him all the best in Utica.”

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