Travis Green was going to be a star. Anyone who remembers him piling up points for the Spokane Chiefs at the end of the 1980s would have sworn it. Green was a strong, rangy centre. Besides his size, the boy from Castlegar, B.C., had terrific hands and enough toughness to survive. It was only Green’s average skating that dropped him to the second round of the NHL draft in 1989, when the New York Islanders chose him 23rd overall — two picks after the first round in the “original” 21-team league. That season, when he was 18, Green had 51 goals and 102 points in 72 games. The next season, 1989-90, Green amassed 60 goals and 128 points. Then he went off to conquer the NHL. Except he didn’t. Despite all that offensive talent, Green spent the next two and a half seasons in the American Hockey League, unable to crack a mediocre Islanders’ lineup. And when he finally made the NHL, it wasn’t as an offensive dynamo but as a dependable, two-way centre who spent most of his career doing little things well somewhere in the middle of the lineup. Green changed NHL teams six times. But by the time he finished with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2007, Green had logged 14 seasons and 970 games. He finished with 455 points, eclipsing 35 points only once in his last eight years. It was a great career, but not the one for which Green was projected when he was drafted. As a young pro, he had to adapt or perish. Eventually, he flourished. Green’s NHL tale is hardly unique, but it’s vitally important these days when talking about the trajectory of Vancouver Canuck sixth-overall draft pick Jake Virtanen. And there is ceaseless talk about Virtanen.
Green’s NHL experiences can help Virtanen flourish with Canucks
Sportsnet | Sep 15