VANCOUVER -- Travis Green was hired as coach of the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.
Green was coach of Utica, the Canucks' American Hockey League affiliate, the past four seasons. The 46-year-old grew up in Castlegar, British Columbia, about 400 miles east of Vancouver.
"This job is special to me because it is in Vancouver," Green said. "When people ask where I am from, I am proud to say British Columbia. I remember growing up watching 'Hockey Night in Canada,' playing road hockey, cheering for the Canucks. It brings back a lot of great memories, so to coach in this province, it matters to me."
Green replaces Willie Desjardins, who was fired April 10 after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a second straight season. Vancouver (30-43-9) finished seventh (last) in the Pacific Division this season, 25 points from a playoff berth.
"We need to get younger, it's no secret," Green said. "We need to infuse some young players into the lineup. You want young players to be on your team. You want those young players to be the players they should be … and I think how you develop them and how you create those players is vital, and it's not the same for every player."
Green was 155-110-27-12 in 304 games with Utica and reached the Calder Cup Playoffs twice, including the final in 2015, where it lost to Manchester, the Los Angeles Kings' affiliate, in five games. Utica finished fifth in the North Division with 79 points (35-32-7-2) this season, three behind St. John's for fourth place and the final playoff berth in the division.
Forwards Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, Jake Virtanen and Nikolay Goldobin, defenseman Jordan Subban and goaltender Thatcher Demko are among the Canucks players and prospects Green coached in Utica.
Green was called two days after Utica's season ended to interview for the coaching job. Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden said no other candidates were interviewed, and other NHL teams asked for permission to talk to Green about their vacancies.
"Travis fits where we are as an organization," Linden said. "He understands young players, he knows how to manage young players, he knows how to set the bar on accountability, what's expected, the preparation that's required, so it was a pretty easy decision for us."
Green played 14 NHL seasons as a center with the New York Islanders, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Phoenix Coyotes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. He had 455 points (193 goals, 262 assists) in 970 games.
He said he knew late in his playing career he wanted to coach.
"I can relate to some of what the young guys are thinking or feeling," Green said. "That's how you build relationships. You try to relate to them. I look back and my playing days and there's things that I'm proud of [and] things that I wasn't as a player. That's helped me in developing players, getting to understand them. Also understanding when a player's ready [for the NHL] and when he's not."
Green has never coached in the NHL and said he understands he could have to adjust his style.
"I'm not too stubborn to know I might have to make some changes," he said. "I know the NHL player well. It's different than the AHL. I understand that. One part that makes this transition easier is being in the organization four years, knowing the players, the management staff, the training staff."
He also knows the task in front of him isn't easy. Vancouver has not won a playoff series since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2011, when it lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games.
"I'm not sitting up here saying, 'Hey, we're going to win the Stanley Cup next year,'" Green said. "But I will tell you we're going to get better. We're going to start the process to building the right culture."