Beginning in 2015-16, the NHL introduced a rule that, similar to the NFL, coaches would be able to challenge certain calls by the referee. And while hockey’s highest league has a little while to go before all the kinks are ironed out (for instance, only two things—goaltender interference and offsides—are able to be challenged, and both have incurred quite a bit of controversy), it seems like Vancouver Canucks coach Travis Green has already mastered the art of the coach’s challenge.
The sophomore bench boss leads the league in combined challenge percentage among active coaches in the two years he’s been in the NHL, according to the website MoreHockeyStats.com.
In 2017-18, Green’s first year in the league, he registered a challenge success rate of 66.67, winning 12 out of 18 total challenges. Only since-fired coaches Alain Vigneault and Glen Gulutzan had better percentages. This year he’s continued that trend, getting it right on 100 percent of his calls, including a key decision in a recent contest against Nashville that led to a goal coming off the board for the Predators.
The stakes can be pretty high for an incorrect challenge (a minor penalty for missed offside calls), so it’s been imperative that Green gets his calls right for a Canucks team that hasn’t been exactly stacked with star talent.
The goaltender interference calls seem more subjective from the league’s head office in Toronto, while the offside ones usually feature Green looking over a tablet and then making the call.
But what his effectiveness in those situations shows is that he’s incredibly plugged in to the game and understands the machinations behind how the league sees different plays. And that’s in his second year as an NHL bench boss.
What’s always been clear is that the absurd calls to fire him earlier in the year when the Canucks were mired in a losing streak were ludicrous. It might be a bit before Green experiences a winning season at the NHL level (if ever), but even through his more questionable decisions (sitting Nikolay Goldobin and Troy Stecher, for example), it’s quite obvious he’s the right coach for the Canucks right now.
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