Travis Green will have his coaching cap on next month at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre during the Vancouver Canucks’ training camp. This week, the Canucks head coach has been at another training camp with his dad hat on at Juan de Fuca Arena, watching 16-year-old son Blake Green skate in camp with the Victoria Grizzlies of the B.C. Hockey League.
It’s a toss-up as to which camp is more stressful.
“I don’t get to be a hockey dad too much during the season [Blake plays forward for the Anaheim Midget Triple-A Ducks in California], so any time I get the chance, I take it. It’s a nice time for both of us,” Green said.
“Like any dad, you want to see your son have fun, succeed and chase his dreams.”
Blake certainly has access to the best of hockey knowledge right at home. But with it, perhaps, comes added weight.
“It’s never easy being a coach’s son,” Travis Green said.
“We have a good relationship. I try to give him advice in the right way, as any dad does.”
The basic advice is the same at any level.
“I tell the Canucks players to work hard. I tell my son the same thing,” Green said.
Travis Green went on from the Spokane Chiefs of the major-junior Western Hockey League to a 14-season playing career in the NHL. The Grizzlies/BCHL route goes through the U.S. collegiate NCAA.
“It’s about making the right decision for yourself,” Green said.
“Players develop in different ways and different timeframes.”
The connection to the Grizzlies came when Blake Green came out to a BCHL combine held in Anaheim.
“I was impressed with the Grizzlies organization,” Travis Green said.
“I thought if [Blake] is going to any junior camp, this one would be good for him.”
Few 16-year-olds play in either the BCHL or WHL, so Blake Green likely will play Midget in Anaheim before making the jump next season.
Travis Green, meanwhile, is looking ahead to the Canucks’ training camp Sept. 13-15 on Blanshard Street.
“NHL camps are short now. You’ve got to push your group — but not over-push,” said Green.
“We are going to dress 60 players in 24 hours [there will be split-squad Canucks-Flames games the same night in Victoria and Calgary on Sept. 16].”
“They are all after 22 to 23 roster spots on our team. There are probably 30 legitimate guys in that group. There will be some disappointed players.”
It says a lot that the Canucks, viewed as a young emerging team, are even in that position.
“We have high-end young players still scratching the surface of what they can be. Our young guys are our future,” Green said.
“And I like our additions.”
Among the latter is veteran defenceman Jordie Benn of Victoria. He was signed by Vancouver as a free agent from the Montreal Canadiens, after a climb as an undrafted junior out of the Grizzlies to the pro ECHL with the hometown Victoria Salmon Kings, and then through the AHL to the NHL.
“Jordie brings a lot of different things to our team that will help our young guys,” said Green.
And not just in his own end.
“Jordie has a heavy shot and a sneaky offensive game,” Green said.
Green is a native of Castlegar, so knows what it’s like for Benn to return to play in B.C.
“From growing up in B.C., you know that the Canucks are followed as the home-province team,” he said.
“It’s special just to be in the NHL, and it’s extra special to get to be in it with your home-province team. It doesn’t happen too often and you feel grateful when it does.”
It also comes with pressure for Green on the Canucks’ bench, which is exerted by fans from Duncan to Dawson Creek and Sooke to Salmo.
“We want to take a step each year,” said Green.
“We hope our next step takes us to the playoffs. This season, we want to make the playoffs and be in the hunt.”
GRIZZ CAMP NOTES: Blake Green has been among the 45 skaters and four goaltenders in Grizzlies camp this week at Juan de Fuca. Scrimmages have been between Team Barrie, Team Bozak, Team Newhook, Team O’Byrne and Team Benn Brothers, all named in honour of the Grizzlies’ most famous alumni.
Camp concluded with the annual Black-White game Thursday night.
The first two exhibition games will be against the Nanaimo Clippers, tonight at 5 p.m. at Juan de Fuca Arena and Saturday at noon in the Harbour City.