By Lanny Stewart
After a 20-year professional hockey career, Josh Green is beginning his first full season as an assistant coach in the MJHL with the Winnipeg Blues – and it didn’t take long for him to get acclimated, says Blues head coach Billy Keane.
“He’s found already that it’s a big difference between coaching and playing,” Keane said of the former pro who experienced training camp recently as a member of the Blues coaching staff after joining the club back in July.
Green – whose hockey resume includes stints with several NHL clubs such as the LA Kings, New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers – has had ample experience when it comes to training camp as a player, but this was the first time he was behind the bench as a coach. It was a quick initiation, but Green pulled it off without a hitch, Keane says.
“Afterwards, I asked him (Green) how’s things going for you? He responded, ‘I hadn’t slept that soundly in 20 years,’” Keane said (laughing). “He enjoyed the whole weekend and it was a really good start to our relationship as a staff. He did a great job.”
Green, originally from Camrose, Alta., who now lives in the Manitoba capitol with his wife and two children, got to know Keane and the Blues organization this past hockey season while as a TSN 1290 hockey analyst, covering the Jets and working pre and post-game radio shows.
“We just got into discussions about it early in the spring and I wanted to pick his brain about it and see if he’d consider it,” Keane said. “Hiring Josh was a no-brainer, certainly from our organizational perspective. He brings that element of ‘been there, done that’ as a successful pro hockey player. All our players aspire to take their games to a different level and certainly having Josh here, discussing it with the guys and talking about what it takes, the commitment that’s needed to get to the next level, he’ll be a tremendous asset.”
Green says he became more of a player/coach on the ice later in his career and it became clear to him coaching was something he wanted to venture into after his playing career ended.
“Coaching was always the first thing that popped up on my list,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for me to kind of get my foot in the door and kind of get my feet wet and just basically learn. I’ve never coached before – not at this level anyway – so just being with the players and helping them develop is something that I think I can help a player with for sure.”
Green will be working closely with the Blues’ defencemen this year and will also help with special teams, specifically the power play.
“I was a forward in my career, but I think I can pass along some of my knowledge to the defencemen as well just in terms of how to play the game,” he said. “Also, away from the rink, having good workout habits and preparation and all that stuff, I think I can help.”
Green says he’s going to rely on his vast experiences in the game as a way of helping the players deal with any situation that may arise.
“They’re going to go through some struggles. I remember when I started playing junior hockey, I left home at 15 years old. There were times where I was home sick. Some of the things that helped me get through that period, I hope I can pass along to the players.
“It’s exciting for me,” he added. “I enjoy being at the rink and coming up with strategies to help the team be better and help the players become better. There’s been some long days for sure, but I knew that going in and I have no problem with going to the rink and putting the time in and learning.”
Green played 341 NHL games during his playing career. Green was originally drafted by the LA Kings in the second round (30th overall) back in 1996.