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Comets Corner with Head Coach Travis Green

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Each week until the beginning of the season, we will introduce you to a member of the Utica Comets. This week’s guest is Head Coach, Travis Green.

On July 11, Travis was named the Comets first Head Coach in franchise history.

Last year Travis took over as Head Coach of the Portland Winterhawks following the suspension of Head Coach and General Manager, Mike Johnston. Under Green’s tutelage the Winterhawks compiled a 37-8-0-2 record, on the way to the Western Hockey League Championship Title. The Green-led Winterhawks went on to lose to the Halifax Mooseheads in the Memorial Cup Finals.

Prior to coaching, Green played 14 years in the National Hockey League, as a member of the New York Islanders, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Phoenix Coyotes, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Boston Bruins. During his time in the NHL he compiled 193 goals, and 455 total points. His team made the playoffs in seven of the 14 seasons.

In the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, the Islanders selected Green in the second round (23rd overall).

Comets Corner: What style of hockey should Utica Comets fans expect to see played at The AUD?

Travis Green: As a coach, I would like to have a team that plays at a high tempo and is a puck possession team.  I want to have a team that uses its speed in all three zones and wants to make plays with the puck, but makes very good decisions.  I don’t want to be a defensive style team that is content in winning hockey games 1-0 or 2-1.  I expect my players to want to create offense, but in saying that, they will be just as willing to commit to the defensive side of the game.  In any league, if you are not committed to defending, it is hard to win.  Again using speed and strong decisions in this area is crucial.  I expect our team to have a very high compete level and one that is extremely well conditioned to play this style for a full 60 minutes.

CC: What is the biggest challenge to coaching a new team?green cc

TG:  Well the obvious answer is just getting to know the players.  Not only getting to know the players from a skill standpoint, but from a personal standpoint as well.  Knowing what makes a player tick is important to a coach. It’s also important that the player knows that you want the best for him, too.  Communication is a big factor in the development of athletes in today’s world.  The good thing is that I will be with most of these guys from Sept 3rd up until our first regular season game, which will give us a lot of time to get to know the players, and what they can and can’t do.

Q. As a member of the Capital District Islanders you played  at the AUD as a visiting player. Do you have any memories of playing at the AUD, and does anything in particular about those games stick out to you?

TG: I remember Utica being a rambunctious place to go into and play.  Playing at the AUD felt a bit old school, and the fans were all over you.  I also remember this deep voice on the bench and looking over to see Tommy McVie screaming in this deep voice.

I am really looking forward to getting the city behind our team and feeling that excitement when we play at home, as it can be a big factor when you have that type of atmosphere.

Q. Last season you unexpectedly assumed the role of Head Coach due to a suspension to the coach. Your team went on to win the Western Hockey League championship, and finished second in the Memorial Cup.  To you, what was the key that kept the team on the right path?

TG: It was quite the year to say the least.  You never envision yourself becoming a head coach under those type of circumstances. Usually a change at the start of the year is due to the team playing poorly, but in this case we were doing quite well and expected to contend for the third straight year.  There is always pressure to win in hockey but this was different, as I knew we had a team capable of doing some great things.  As far as a key to our success, our players were very focused and wanted to win very badly after losing in the finals for two years in a row.  They were committed to doing the finer details that separate winning and losing.  When you get to the finals in any league, the margin of victory is so small that it often comes down to being committed for 60 minutes, and to doing all the little things that it takes to win a hockey game.  I just felt like this group was willing to go the distance and do whatever they had to in order to win a championship.  It is hard to get skilled players to buy into chipping a puck to space late in games or to lay down to block a one timer when you know it is going to hurt.

Q. What is your favorite hockey memory?

TG: I have so many great hockey memories that is hard to pick out just one. As a player, winning a world championship with Team Canada was very special.  As a coach, obviously winning the WHL championship last year was a great achievement for our team, but developing the players we did and seeing them move on was a great feeling as a coach.   I have been blessed and lucky to be involved with hockey for all my life, I feel very fortunate.

Q. What are some of your hobbies away from hockey?

TG: I like to spend as much time as I can with my kids during the off season as our time together during the season seams to be a bit limited but this is something that we have been used to from day one. I also like to get out on the golf course every now and then.

Q. What are you looking forward to the most about this upcoming season?

TG: I am very excited about the upcoming season for several reasons.  Going into a city where they have not had professional hockey in quite some time is very exciting for our whole team, players and staff.  I enjoy working with and developing young talent, so I am looking forward to working with these young men and helping them move on and reach their potential.  I love to compete and every season brings a new opportunity to do so and accomplish something special.