Senators expected to name Travis Green head coach
Travis Green. Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Senators are expected to finalize Travis Green as their next head coach, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports.

Green finished 2023-24 as the interim head coach for the Devils, who fired Lindy Ruff four days before the trade deadline in a last-ditch effort to make the playoffs. While he remained in consideration for their still-open vacancy, New Jersey granted him permission to speak to Ottawa, Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch reported. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also said on Monday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast that things were trending toward Green landing with the Sens.

It wasn’t a strong finish to the season under Green for the Devils. They managed to drop below the .500 mark despite having a record of 30-27-4 when they fired Ruff, finishing 13th in the Eastern Conference and 10 points behind the Capitals for the second wild-card spot.

Green shouldn’t be faulted for New Jersey missing the playoffs. That was nearly settled well before he took over, with number-one defenseman Dougie Hamilton missing nearly the whole season and the Devils’ five goaltenders cumulatively allowing 19 goals above average. But it is concerning he wasn’t able to at least keep up the pace set under Ruff, especially considering New Jersey received its best goaltending of the season to end the year thanks to deadline pickup Jake Allen’s .900 SV% in 12 starts.

The 53-year-old has been a part of the NHL back to 1992, when he embarked on a 14-year, 970-game career as a player that involved stops with the Islanders, Mighty Ducks, Coyotes, Maple Leafs and Bruins. He retired in 2008 following one season of play with EV Zug in the Swiss NLA, taking two seasons off before landing his first coaching gig as an assistant with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.

Green spent three years in Portland, taking over as interim head coach in 2012-13 when Winterhawks fixture and former Penguins head coach Mike Johnston was suspended for offering improper player benefits and committing various recruitment violations in his dual GM/head coach capacity. He didn’t miss a beat, coaching a high-powered Winterhawks squad led by future NHLers Oliver Bjorkstrand, Seth Jones, Brendan Leipsic, Nic Petan and Ty Rattie to a WHL championship.

That put Green on NHL teams’ radar, and he landed a job in the Canucks organization the following summer as head coach of their AHL affiliate in Utica. He remained there for four seasons, including a Calder Cup Final appearance in 2015, before being promoted to head coach of the Canucks in 2017.

Green’s showing over four and a quarter seasons in British Columbia was underwhelming, compiling a 133-147-34 record and a .478 points percentage. Again, it’s hard to blame Green – the Canucks had questionable roster construction under then-general manager Jim Benning – but there was very little suggesting he was an above-average coach. 

Vancouver’s lone postseason appearance under Green came in 2020, where they won a qualifying round series against the Wild in the Edmonton bubble and beat the Blues in the first round before falling to the Golden Knights in seven games in the second round. It was a deeper run than expected, although most would rightfully attribute it to the expert goaltending of Jacob Markström (.916 SV%, 8-6 in 14 GS) and Thatcher Demko (.985 SV%, 2-1 in 3 GS).

While he has more NHL experience as a head coach heading into the role than his permanent predecessor, D.J. Smith, it’s not the most exciting hire for an Ottawa team that hasn’t made the playoffs for seven years. Some roster overhauling will be necessary on behalf of GM Steve Staios to aid Green as he assumes control of the room, namely in giving him more offensive weapons to deploy in their bottom six and solidified goaltending.

Ottawa fired Smith amid a December losing streak and managed to go .500 the rest of the way under former bench boss Jacques Martin, who returned to the club to serve as their interim head coach for the last four months of the campaign.

This article first appeared on Pro Hockey Rumors and was syndicated with permission.

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