Where do I start?
Everyone knows Hughes is a rare offensive talent. He is someone who excels in a Run and Gun offense, or as a powerplay quarterback.
What he isn't is a defensive ace... he is not a #1 Defenseman. A real #1 D can do it all... both offense and defense... Hughes simply isn't big enough to dominate physically in his own team's end the way a real #1 has to.
But what does Green do?.... He plays Hughes like a #1... he plays him for close to 30 minutes and he puts him in all the situations which would be demanded of a #1... so we see Hughes on the PK, in charge of clearing the front of the net... wrestling with forwards who are twice his size. And big surprise... Hughes is a gamer, he tries hard, and then he gets injured wrestling with a much bigger forward in front of the net.
Part of this is the failure of Benning to provide Green with a player who could be a good defensive partner to Hughes. He let Tanev go... Tanev wasn't the biggest player, (bigger than Hughes) but he had the smarts and anticipation... he knew how to use his stick and control the play net front. Benning also didn't replace Edler with someone who could be as physical. Everyone who got down on Alex as he aged tends to forget the work he did in front of the net... Edler was a stalwart back there and could battle with the best of them. Nobody replaced him. OEL is not that guy... he's skilled, but he is not a real physical presence.
Logically Myers should be partnered with Hughes... that way Myers can take care of the net front... but that partnership hasn't worked out for some reason... (although you would think a decent defensive coach could teach them to work together)
I am concerned that Hughes is being ruined as a player... that he will mistakenly start to lose confidence in himself for not being able to play the physical game... as well as getting angry at Green for putting him in these situations.
Everyone is talking about the lack of hitting by the Canucks... their record this season is abysmal.
The only person who seems to be hitting is Connor Garland... which is a complete anomaly. Garland is one of the smaller players on the team... why is he leading the way in the physical play? Let me make a prediction... if Garland continues to try to lead the team physically, he will be injured too.
So why isn't Green coaching the big guys on the team to hit and be physical??? It's true the team has gotten smaller... thanks to all the small forwards Benning has brought in and all the big forwards he has lost to waivers... but we still have few guys with size... Horvat, Miller, Pearson, Myers are examples... why isn't Green coaching his bigger guys to hit on the forecheck?
After all, Green's system is a dump and chase... following by a cycle... and hitting has to be part of that... you gotta have someone retrieve the puck when you dump it in... and the way you do that is by forcing the opposing D to cough up the puck... either by hitting or the threat of a hit.
So what's going on??? Well, what's going on is Green's laissez faire/see what happens attitude towards everything. He doesn't have a handle on what his players are doing because he really doesn't have a system.
The other problem is, Miller, Pearson, Horvat and Myers are some of the offensive cornerstones of the team now... if you have these guys being the physical ones... then they get injured or end up in the box. Theoretically, it is the lunch bucket guys on the team who should be doing the hitting.... problem is... the lunchbucket hitters are all missing.
A few years back we had a decent amount of hitting going on... it wasn't really coached... it came as part of the player package.. i.e. we paid to have guys like Beagle, Graovac and Roussel do that... but Benning messed up his CAP and decided we couldn't afford any more expensive character players.
And the in house developed hitters, like MacEwen, Bailey and Gadjovich all fell victim to Green's grudges... when Green doesn't like you... you aren't long for the team.
So what are we left with? Unfortunately it looks like a soft team.... thanks Green's coaching and Benning's trades/waivers.
On a related topic... while I love John Garret for his commentary, he is a real homer and never likes to criticize the Canucks Staff. Corey Hirsch is definitely a character, but he is also not afraid to point to where Green's system is breaking down... both in the D Zone as well as on the offense. He's been a breath of fresh air. Wish Green and the Assistants would have a listen to the broadcasts.