Don Cherry is a fan of Travis Green, who was named head coach of the Vancouver Canucks in April.
Cherry joined Sportsnet 650’s Starting Lineup on Tuesday, and shared his opinion of the hiring, though he stressed the need for patience in B.C.
“Vancouver’s got a great coach, I’ve been keeping my eye on him,” said Cherry, who’s followed Green’s post-playing career since the 46-year-old joined the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks in 2008 as an assistant coach.
Green took over for then-head coach and general manager Mike Johnston partway through 2012-13 and led the team to a 37–8–2 record to close out the season before winning the WHL championship and earning a Memorial Cup berth.
The Canucks fired Willie Desjardins after two straight seasons of missing the playoffs and replaced him with Green, who had been leading Vancouver’s AHL affiliate in Utica.
“He’s a great coach and the reason I keep my eye on him is when he was playing here in Toronto, I said that he would make a good coach in the National Hockey League,” said Cherry. “Now they gotta give him time. He got a three-year contract, and I love what he said when he (was hired), he said the team’s gotta get younger, he didn’t put down Willie.”
One of Green’s first tasks as head coach will be to ease the transition from the Sedin era as the team looks to get younger.
“I don’t know what he’s going to do but he’s gotta straighten those guys out, they can’t be minus-25 and scoring 15 goals,” said Cherry. “I think he’ll handle them right; play them on the power play, don’t play them when the faceoff’s in your end, he’ll come up with something.
“He’s a good coach.”
Vancouver will enter the 2017-18 season with its fourth head coach in six seasons. John Tortorella took over from Alain Vigneault in 2013-14, before being replaced by Desjardins one year later.
That kind of instability inside the locker-room is something Cherry hopes the Canucks can avoid from here on out.
“They get rid of Tortorella who was coach of the year this year, they get rid of Willie who is a good coach, they gotta give this guy time,” said Cherry.
“And if things don’t work out they gotta start looking up above and quit looking behind the bench.”