Despite a younger, faster NHL, Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green says 36-year-old forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin have a place on his roster.
Sure, the twins' offensive game has declined in recent years but along with leading scorer Bo Horvat, they were the only Canucks to surpass the 35-point mark this season. The Sedins each have one year left on their contracts at $7 million US apiece.
"The Sedins are still really good hockey players," Green said during his 40-minute introductory news conference on Wednesday. "I'm excited to push them to maximize their talents. I've got a lot of belief in these guys and I think they're going to have a strong year next year."
Going forward, Daniel and Henrik probably won't average 18 minutes 23 seconds and 19:02, respectively, as they did this season, but Green is counting on his veteran players to push the culture of the team.
"Younger players have to lean on the veterans at times and that's the culture we want to create," said the 46-year-old bench boss, who takes over from the fired Willie Desjardins.
"I'm a big believer of playing four lines. With the pace of the game … you need to have depth."
Named the 19th head coach in Canucks history and the fourth since May 2013, Green spent the past four seasons guiding their American Hockey League team in Utica, N.Y.
The Comets narrowly missed the playoffs this season after losing in the AHL semifinals a year ago and in the Calder Cup Finals in 2015. Under Green, they posted a 155-110-39 record, including a 35-32-9 mark this season.
"It's a lot of work with young players and I know the work Travis put in in Utica going through video, talking to players and teaching them what it takes [to succeed]," Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden told reporters Wednesday, adding the team didn't interview anyone else for the job.
The Canucks are entering a rebuilding phase after missing the post-season for a second consecutive year and the third time in four seasons.
"One part that makes this transition easier is being in the organization for four years, knowing the players [and] management staff," Green said.
Canucks general manager Jim Benning moved veteran forwards Alex Burrows, 36, and Jannik Hansen, 31, ahead of the March 1 trade deadline, leaving forwards Derek Dorsett (30) and Loui Eriksson (31) along with defenceman Alex Edler (30) and pending unrestricted free-agent goalie Ryan Miller (36) as the only players 30 or older on the roster.
"You want young players on your team," said Green. "You want those young players to be the players they should be … when it's time to win championships."
Infusion of youth
Third-year centre Horvat, 21, was the only Vancouver player this season to reach 20 goals and top 50 points (52).
Nikolay Goldobin, 21, showed well with the Comets, posting a pair of two-goal games once the Canucks failed to make the playoffs. Right-winger Brock Boeser, a first-round pick by Vancouver in 2015, scored four times in nine games after leaving the University of North Dakota.
Centre Jonathan Dahlen, whom Benning received from Ottawa in return for Burrows, had 25 goals in 45 second-division games in Sweden.
There's also Adam Gaudette, whom Vancouver drafted in the fifth round in 2015. The 20-year-old centre racked up 26 goals and 52 points in 37 games this season at Northeastern University in Boston.
Similar to Desjardins in June 2014, Green has no NHL head coaching experience and has never been an NHL assistant.
"I know the NHL player well and it's different than the AHL," he said. "I'm a big believer in preparation. I'm a big believer in communication. I don't like players to wonder where they stand."
After retiring from the NHL at 37, Green spent four seasons with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. He took them to the Memorial Cup final in 2013, bowing to the Halifax Mooseheads after taking over as interim head coach for the suspended Mike Johnston.
Green played 14 seasons in the NHL, compiling 193 goals, 455 points and 764 penalty minutes in 970 regular-season games with the New York Islanders, Anaheim, Phoenix, Toronto and Boston. Green added 21 points in 56 playoff contests.
Special teams need work
"He has an intense desire to win and build a team identity that is hard working, responsible at both ends of the ice and competitive," said Benning of Green in a statement.
Vancouver's special teams had mixed results under Desjardins, with a power play that ranked 11th in 2014-15 (18.9 per cent), dropped to 27th last year (15.8) and was 29th this season with a 14.1 per cent success rate.
The Canucks finished 29th in the 30-team NHL with a 30-43-9 record for 69 points, their fewest over an 82-game campaign since 1999 when they had 58 points (23-47-12).
With the NHL draft set for June 23-24, Vancouver will find out where it selects on Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 8 p.m. ET).