Should New Jersey Devils fans have confidence in Travis Green?

The New Jersey Devils changed head coaches with only 21 games remaining. Green has experience as the Vancouver Cancuk's former head coach but is that enough to inspire confidence from Devils fans?

Oct 3, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks assistant coach Jason King and head
Oct 3, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks assistant coach Jason King and head / Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Was it too little too late? The New Jersey Devils fired head coach Lindy Ruff on Monday after a disappointing season so far but with only 21 games left. Travis Green was named interim head coach.

Any optimism was short-lived as Tuesday's game against the Florida Panthers followed all too familiar of a script. New Jersey found themselves down early and never recovered. Green surprisingly had rookie defenseman Simon Nemec watch from the press box.

Nemec was one of the few bright spots of the season, so Green’s decision wasn’t well-received by fans. The Devils would go on to lose 5-3.

Let’s focus on Travis Green specifically. Should Devils fans feel any more optimistic with him behind the bench? Replacement head coaches who came on mid-season have had a good amount of success this NHL season.

The New Jersey Devils have a new person leading the way with Travis Green

Chris Knoblauch of the Edmonton Oilers is the greatest success story but it’s unfair to think Green would have the same type of effect on New Jersey, especially with so little time remaining.

On Tuesday’s broadcast, it was mentioned multiple times that Green has prior head coaching experience with the Vancouver Canucks from 2017 until 2022 when he was fired 25 games into the 2021-2022 season.

His record was 133-147-34 in 314 games with one playoff appearance. That appearance was during the 2019-2020 NHL playoffs went the Canucks went to the second round in the NHL playoff bubble.

It is worth noting that at the time the season had been suspended, the Canucks were 4th in the Pacific Division.

Green was there a weird time in Vancouver’s history. Faces of the franchises Henrik and Daniel Sedin both retired at the end of the 2017-2018 season.

The team had tried to make the most of the Sedins’ last years before pivoting toward a rebuild at the 2017 trade deadline. That decision was made by then-General Manager Jim Benning, who would hire Green that offseason and remain in Vancouver until both he and Green were fired.

The Canucks never made the push to be a rebuilding team with Green at the helm, always remaining just competitive enough during their “transition” to the post-Sedin era.

That 2020 playoff run was a fluke-like mirage that perhaps led Vancouver management to believe their “retool” was working and eventually Green’s Canucks would break through. The shortened 2019-2020 season was the Canucks only year with a better than .500 record under Green.

Green worked on the Devils power play as a member of Lindy Ruff’s staff. New Jersey’s power play got off to an amazing start but began to falter around the same time Jack Hughes hit the injury list for the first time this season.

Using power play percentage as the metric, we looked at how the Canucks did during Green’s tenure on the man advantage. Over the roughly four seasons Green was coach, the Canucks were 12th in power play percentage at 21.3%.

That was the result of extremes instead of consistency. The Cancuks pinged ponged between being a top ten power play in the league and a bottom ten team in the four “full” seasons Green coached (we left out the 2021-2022) season.

Their finishes from 2017-2018 to 2020-2021 were 9th, 22nd, 4th and 25th, respectively. Even with Vancouver being in a transitional period those are some hefty highs and lows.

Lindy Ruff had a plethora of NHL head coaching experience before proceeding to Green as New Jersey’s bench boss. Before Ruff was Alain Nassredinne, who had taken the interim title after John Hynes's firing.

Hynes spent over four seasons as the Devils head coach, but that was his first NHL head coaching job. Hynes only had AHL coaching experience before that.

To put it bluntly, Green has no real record of success that should make Devils fans think he can turn around the season. The fact he kept Vancouver mostly competitive in what should have been a rebuild should offer some encouragement.

Unlike former assistant coach Andrew Brunette, who was in Green’s position on Lindy Ruff’s staff last year, his regular season results aren’t there (Brunette had led the Florida Panthers to the 2021-2022 President's Trophy after being head coach a majority of the season).

It's worth noting Green’s pre-Devils head coaching resume is longer than Brunette’s was before joining the Nashville Predators.

Green might not be the savior the Devils want him to be. In all likelihood, he might just be a temporary placeholder until general manager Tom Fitzgerald can conduct a more extensive search as seasons end.

If Green can lead the Devils to the playoffs it would no doubt do a lot to take away the “interim” title he currently holds. If not, then all of this would be too little, too late.