Is a Jim Benning Hiring a Formality at this point?

Dimitri Filipovic
May 08 2014 01:56PM

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 12.02.00 PM
Photo via Ken Gregg

Exactly a week ago today, still relatively newly minted President of Hockey Ops Trevor Linden held a press conference to announce the firing of John Tortorella (and Mike Sullivan), and field questions about the direction of the team and the plan for the summer. 

Muddled somewhere in the middle of it all, was a question from a reporter specifically about the team's reported interest in bringing Boston Bruins Assistant GM Jim Benning to right the ship. In the sort of politically correct form that we've come to expect from Linden, he quickly brushed the question off, referring back to the nondescript "narrowed down and focused list" of candidates he had compiled. What it was, was a pretty thinly veiled confirmation without actually technically confirming what we've all been suspecting for some time now, ever since the firing of the position's predecessor. 

Now there's a report coming from Darren Dreger that it's just really a matter of time before the two sides can formally go out in public arm-in-arm, putting their mutual affection for each other on display for the hockey world to see. 

Read on for more.

Obviously we're still in something of a 'wait-and-see' approach with regards to this, but since Dreger came off fairly confident with his verbiage and the source isn't exactly an Eklund or HockeyyInsiderr, let's use it as a launching pad to navigate the landscape.

In that aforementioned press conference Linden made sure to repeat numerous times that he hadn't received any sort of pushback on timing from teams still competing in the playoffs. With that being said, it makes plenty of sense that they'd hold off on making any sort of formal announcement considering the ongoing 2nd round series between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens. For whatever it's worth, the Bruins find themselves in a 2-1 hole, and even if the series winds up going the distance, it'll be over by this time next week

The name seems like a good enough one, by all accounts. He's well regarded in the hockey community, and his record as the Director of Amateur Scouting in Buffalo was sparkling; which, based on past history, would fill a most urgent of holes for a Canucks team that hasn't been able to hit the broad side of a barn with an overwhelming majority of their picks. All of the other stuff, I remain unconvinced about. While there's no disagreeing with the success the Boston Bruins have enjoyed, I'd say the concept of the "Boston Model" that people seem to readily lust over is more fool's gold than something worth striving to replicate for other franchises

That's not to say that Benning wouldn't be a savvy get for the Canucks, who'd be wise to establish a General Manager before turning their attention towards other needs, like filling the coaching vacancy. Doing so in a timely manner would also surely be beneficial, before the list of potentially viable candidates dwindles down with times that have the advantage of currently having the requisite infrastructure in place already picking from the bunch. 

For a while there it appeared that they would be benefit from an over-reactionary firing to another abrupt playoff exit by the St.Louis Blues, but they wisely spared themselves by announcing that he'd be back next season for another kick at the can. Another potential option - particularly according to Bodog's odds - Brad Shaw, was retained by those very same Blues in his assistance capacity. It has also been rumoured that they'll add Kirk Muller to the staff, because they're a greedy bunch that wasn't taught to share with others!

Similarly along those lines, it appears that Todd McLellan won't be on the open market if Sharks GM Doug Wilson has anything to say about it, which is disappointing because he would've been a prime option. Same goes for Randy Caryl-- hahaha, I'm totally just kidding. But back to reality, Peter Laviolette was astutely snatched up by the Predators as they look to put the Barry Trotz Era in the past and move on.

Which brings us to the guys that are still available, with Trotz leading the pack based solely on name recognition and pedigree. Other names that are commonly bandied about in this discussion are the likes of Guy Boucher, John Stevens, and Kevin Dineen. Another very enticing name that circulated has been Jeff Blashill, but Red Wings GM Ken Holland is on the record in saying that he won't let other teams talk to the guy he has been grooming in the AHL should they approach him this summer. 

There's a lot to mull over here, particularly given how devastatingly massive a flop the last time the team brought in a coach wound up being. While there's technically no rush based on it still being early May and a long summer still looming ahead, the fact remains that we're talking about a team that as things currently stand have next to nothing in place, forced to stand by and watch others participate in the playoffs. 

Soon enough the draft and free agency will be just around the corner, and positioning themselves to have the types of minds in place capable of getting them off of the sidelines and back into the mix is the first step. It starts with the General Manager, and if these reports are true, it could unleash a cascade of moves to be made in the coming weeks.  

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Dimitri Filipovic writes about hockey on the internet, and is the Managing Editor of Canucks Army. You can follow him on Twitter @DimFilipovic, and email him at dimitri.filipovic@gmail.com.
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#51 BuffaloBillsOfHockey
May 11 2014, 01:25AM
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@HPC

While I'm not a huge Alex Edler fan myself, as a fellow reader of this blog, I can say with reasonable certainty that you're aware that as it's now 2014 and not 1984.

Not many people (statistically inclined or otherwise) tend to put a lot of stock in +/- figures in terms of assessing a players overall value these days. Personally, I only find +/- useful for evaluation of a player's deployment usage, quality of competition and of course, the rarely mentioned quality of cooperation (i.e. teammates) and even then it can be pretty vague. Largely, it's an archaic statistic from a bygone era. It's the rotary telephone of hockey statistics.

For example, if I were to assign a statistic to every individual in the human race that counted, say, the number of cracks in the sidewalk you stepped on in a given year and one year you stepped on more than any other person and I, in turn, labelled you, "Worst in the human league," you would likely accuse me of prejudice based on data of highly questionable value. And you would be correct in your assertion.

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#52 HPC
May 11 2014, 01:35AM
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@BuffaloBillsOfHockey

You forgot one important stat...most people who walk on the sidewalk do not kick pucks into their own net the way Edler does.

And that's just the tip of the ice berg.

Assertion corrected, mate.

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#53 BuffaloBillsOfHockey
May 11 2014, 02:02AM
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@HPC

I don't see you posting any, "#FireStanton," or, "Trade Kesler!!!!11!!!11111," nonsense, so I'll take that as a sign that you're a reasonable person that can be rationed with.

Stanton scored three own goals this season, two of which were in one game. Admittedly, I was amazed at how few people were calling for his head after that game, considering the historically temperamental nature of the fan base in question.

Furthermore, Kesler, widely considered by many to be the club's best player (for what that's worth, the season being what it was), was a -15 for the year (via nhl.com), ranking second worst on the team.

Given these facts, what makes Kesler a valuable trade asset to many and Edler dead weight or even a blight? Why is Edler (7 goals, 15 assists) a boat anchor and Stanton (1 goal, 15 assists) not?

Simply consider the possibility that just because a player has a terrible season in light of one ancient statistic doesn't mean that we should crucify them, burn them and the cross they're nailed to and then box up the ashes, put the box into a rocket and launch the rocket into the sun. Or even worse for their career yet, trade them to the Florida Panthers.

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#54 HPC
May 11 2014, 02:41AM
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@BuffaloBillsOfHockey

There are too many things to list, but the team as a whole stinks. The management stinks, the scouting has always stunk and player development...well, that obviously does not exist.

Kesler, along with Luongo and Burrows and the Sedins are also the problems. they had their chance to get rid of them, but as usual, always trying to pass spam as real pork.

One terrible season? Edler has shown he doesn't have what it takes, he's older and worse. But I always knew Vancouver hockey was a charity, not a real competitive team. Why do you think Trevor Linden is back? Because the poster child for mediocrity doesn't know when to quit.

Quitting is better than fake trying and the Canucks have been fake trying for 44 years.

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#55 HPC
May 11 2014, 02:48AM
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@BuffaloBillsOfHockey

Oh, BTW, it's one thing to try and pass off spam as ham in the first year, but after how many seasons with this core? Do you think real people ( not shills and mouth pieces for the Canucks) really believe that this stale core can do it next year? Oh of course not, maybe in a couple of decades when the Sedins are in their 50's. Then it''l be good times.

44 years... tic toc tic toc tic toc tic toc tick toc tic toc tic toc tic toc tic toc tic toc tic toc. Here's a stretch, next year the Canucks will waste time again. Now where did I get that idea from? After 44 years of failure and half assed fake trying, we should all expect a winner tomorrow. Ha!

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#56 PB
May 11 2014, 03:07AM
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@andyg

Trolls. I fed them. Even after I told you not to. It is kind of amusing to come on here and post something just to see what will set them off. Their responses are unfortunately as predictable as they are boring.

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#57 thenonclavens
May 11 2014, 05:52AM
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@PB

Trolls. I fed them. Their responses are unfortunately as predictable as they are boring.

So are yours , Mr. Claven.

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#58 Lemming
May 11 2014, 05:39PM
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@BuffaloBillsOfHockey

It was so refreshing to see your comment, because it actually made sense beyond some kind of vague "everyone sucks/doesn't suck" ranting and made good coherent sense.

That seems to be lacking around these parts lately.

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#59 #happynow?
May 11 2014, 08:35PM
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@Lemming

The Canucks don't suck. They have the winningest team in the league's history and countless cup their delusional fans can rally their arrogance around. There's nothing vague about the team's championships.

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#60 HPC
May 11 2014, 08:38PM
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@PB

Wait, were they trolling you with their "canucks suck" posts or where you trolling every rational human being with your " Edler doesn't suck" posts?

Hmmm....

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#61 PB
May 11 2014, 08:40PM
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@HPC

Aww, so cute, you're still trying...

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#62 marsh
May 11 2014, 08:55PM
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HPC wrote:

"Henrik Sedin and Bieksa were actually one of the brighter spots this season. I think they have alot to offer still."

If Bieksa and the Sedins were the bright spots on the team then I would be very scared to see what you call brilliant hockey.

So I guess the Sedins and Bieksa have been saving their good stuff all that time? I guess the SCF wasn't a good time to show up but the best time to do something is coming up.

Oh, by the way, do you know how old those players are? You do know ppl get worse as they get older right?

"YES.. Edler... for fk's sakes, keep him. He's 27 and has the best potential out of our "top 4"... OKAY... i get it.. worst minus record in the NHL blah blah blah... Edler has the biggest frame and highest offensive skill set"

Enuff said there...keep the worst, cause the worst has upswing. With players like Edler, you don't need opponents... you are a Canucks fan right? Wouldn't it be better to trade Edler to an opponent , that way they can watch him kick goals into his own net.

Face it, Edler is the new Jyrki Lumme. Now with Captain average on board as the prez, the only one left is Quinn and Mclean and I'd say 60 years of futility is as sure as Judas will betray Jesus.

Is that you, Mike Keenan?

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#63 HPC
May 11 2014, 11:44PM
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@marsh

Is that you Don Taylor?

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#64 HPC
May 11 2014, 11:45PM
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@PB

I can never try as hard as you in defending Edler, Mr. Claven.

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#65 BuffaloBillsOfHockey
May 12 2014, 12:54AM
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@Lemming

Thanks.

Keep calm and carry on. Sometimes it's important to remember that old chestnut.

This year the popular choice for village idiot seems to be Alex Edler. However, I recall the end of last season when Booth was the goat and many wanted to see him bought out and shipped out of Vancouver in a packing crate without an air hole drilled (and many still do). The problem with getting rid of your goat is that you could wake up the next day and wonder why you don't have any goat cheese. Booth - who was already playing here and there between injuries and was under-producing - had sustained another injury that he was told at the time would take a minimum of one year to fully heal.

He continued to underwhelm well into the next (i.e. this past) season and fans continued to talk of the need to buy out David Booth.

Suddenly, almost exactly one year later, his production suddenly jumps way up. It's showing in his regular stats, fancy stats and the even the much touted eye test. Thomas Drance posted on twitter last year that Booth would score 10 goals. Booth scored 10 goals. OK, so he scored 9, but a lot of people saw the replays and let's face it, Booth scored that goal, not Daniel Sedin. The point being that Metrics are an extremely useful predictive tool and in this case, they were bang on. Booth appears to be on the upswing; why buy him out when he only has a year left on his contract, anyway? Are you going to vastly improve the team with one more space on the roster and another 4.5 mil in cap space to play with? Probably not.

That, plus I distinctly recall a recent article on this site in which it was shown that Booth and Kassian were absolutely crushing it in the possession numbers department. Furthermore, the same article demonstrated that empirical evidence, the "U2" statistic - as I've personally come to refer to the, "With Or Without You," or whatever-they're-called charts that are frequently deployed on this site depicting stats relative of a player with and without another player - suggested that it was Richardson in the library with the rope that was holding back the third line.

Not bad for a young dude who's been called both inexperienced and inconsistent and a guy who many insist is a lemon in need of a compliance buyout, eh? Dominating their opposition without the luxury of a satisfactory pivot, and yet both are somehow still considered questionable by many. Gotta love it.

Long story short: I agree with you. The Canucks fan base can be jaded and emotional bunch. As a part of that fan base, I understand that implicitly. But freaking out and making emotional roster decisions carries the potential penalty of making the club worse, not better, as intended.

Then again, sometimes you hold on to your goat for too long before selling and you end up with something similar to what the Calgary Flames got: Nothing but peanuts in return and a lingering stink of goat.

Either way, I'm just glad it's Trev who's currently responsible for these decisions and not me.

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#66 #FireLinden
May 12 2014, 01:26AM
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@BuffaloBillsOfHockey

"Either way, I'm just glad it's Trev who's currently responsible for these decisions and not me."

You're not going to be glad come next year when Trevor Vanilla starts up Camp Mediocre again

#seenallthisbeforeinthe90s

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#67 BuffaloBillsOfHockey
May 12 2014, 02:25AM
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@#FireLinden

Hah!

"#FireLinden"...I love it. Keep it coming.

I too, am old enough to have seen all this before in the '90s.

I am also old enough to have paid for my own computer, live in a home that I own and pay monthly bills for my (terrible) TELUS internet connection. In addition to this, I am able to type a similar statement to yours both with spaces and without a hashtag in front of any of my opinions.

Yes, it may be another dark road we're going down, but before you post again, reach deep down and ask yourself the following three questions; if you can answer, "Yes," to any of them, please feel encouraged to rebut my comment, granted you include justification for your answers.

1) Can you envision a realistic sequence of trades, drafts and hires involving the Canucks winning the Cup within the next 3-5 seasons given the current front office and team?

2) As it's already been 43 years, would you feel an unacceptable difference in level of team pride were the Canucks to win their first cup in 2025 (54 years) as opposed to 2015 (44 years)?

3) The Toronto Maple Leafs are the third most Stanley Cup winning franchise to date. Their last win was in...1967. Before the Canucks or most of the other teams existed. Before the league expanded. That means that if you were an, "Original six," team, statistically speaking, if the league were truly even strength, you were to able roll a six-sided die and if six meant you won the Stanley Cup, you were a champion. Try the home game version of this. Not too hard to win a Cup suddenly, is it? Imagine you suddenly have to roll a 30 sided die and only a 30 is considered a cup: your odds were just cut down to one-fifth what they previously were.

In light of these parameters, can you MATHEMATICALLY GUARANTEE me that all 30 teams have won a cup after 10 rolls? How about 20 rolls? No? 30? 40? How about 50 rolls?

If you have answered, "No," to any of the above, take it down a notch and support your team.

Of course, if not and you're a 17 year-old closet Flames fan and internet troll typing your posts in a West Lethbridge basement suite, disregard my entire post. Otherwise, as I said, I love open discussion, so keep it coming.

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#68 #FireLinden
May 12 2014, 05:34AM
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@BuffaloBillsOfHockey

"BuffaloBillsOfHockey" keep on writing long winded comments I don't even bother reading.

You must love reading what I write seeing as how you tend to reply with an essay. Next time make sure you write something ten times as long. Ha!

44 years and no cups but lots of excuses. Hahahaha!

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#69 PB
May 12 2014, 07:20AM
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@BuffaloBillsOfHockey

I think you are over-estimating by at least five years if you think they're 17…

it is kind of you to humor their attempts at trolling though.

Yes, the Edler scapegoating is idiotic. But beyond these dumb trolls I suppose the question is with any of the actual assets we have whether or not to try and flip them. Not because Edler is not a good player -- he clearly is with his combination of skating, passing, and hard shot, but as so many others have pointed out here he seems not to have taken that next step. Trading him seems like a difficulty if he's not willing to waive the NTC which it sounds like. If moving him is an option I think he'd bring us a far better return than some of the others we have here in a similar situation. But -- again as others have pointed out here -- this would seem like a bad time to even consider it since we'd be selling pretty low. As for Booth, I like him as a third line option but since we're paying him as a second liner I'm not sure he's redeemed himself to the extent you're suggesting.

I have no idea whether we'll be a competitive team in the near future. Without an actual management in place it's hard to even know the direction we might be going in. I don't care about Chicago, Boston or Detroit's particular style, it's their management structure that we should seek to emulate as it clearly results in the building of perennial contenders with not only established stars but a clear pipeline of talent coming up. I think the imbalance in teams like Florida and the Islanders (all prospects and little present) or the Flyers, Canucks and some might even say the Sharks (aging core, few prospects) shows that lack of proper management and foresight. I think this is clearly why other teams are poaching assistant GMs from Detroit and Boston and why it's a good idea.

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#70 BuffaloBillsOfHockey
May 12 2014, 12:08PM
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@#FireLinden

You didn't read my response to your last post in it's entirety?

Yet you clearly made it all the way down to the last line where I referenced Linden in my previous post, which you originally responded to.

Based on that, I'm guessing you read my last post - despite your claim to the contrary - in its entirety, as well. That being said, I'm sure you made it through the last paragraph of my previous post as well.

Now that we have that out of the way, how's the weather in Alberta?

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#71 BuffaloBillsOfHockey
May 12 2014, 12:18PM
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@PB

Agreed.

I shouldn't have fed the trolls.

Also, I personally agree with your stance regarding Edler. My previous post's comments on him are more of aa friendly reminder that the old, "TRADE EVERYONE!!!11!!," solution is getting played out to many who read this board.

The only area where we may disagree somewhat is the emulation of Chicago and Boston simply because when you're playing follow the leader, it's important to remember that you'll always be at least one step behind. Other than that, I'd agree that it would be a good way to get the club back on track as quickly as possible.

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#72 #FireLinden
May 12 2014, 02:13PM
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@BuffaloBillsOfHockey

Nah. You keep dreaming, Edler lover.

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#73 #FireLinden
May 12 2014, 02:17PM
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@BuffaloBillsOfHockey

Your post isn't a page long. You must have read my comment and did what I told you to do, good boy.

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#74 Lemming
May 12 2014, 05:38PM
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@BuffaloBillsOfHockey

The problem I have with trolls on sports boards is that they're so boring. Seriously.

Expect some response to my comment along the lines of "another delusional Canucks fan!!" or "44 years no cups LOOOOL!!".

I was actually losing interest in hockey because I had met so many stupid fans before I found this blog and was awakened to the interesting world of analytics, and I definitely appreciate everything you're talking about.

It's a double-edged sword though: because I more or less understand a bit about fancy stats now, I find the trolling to be 10x more boring just because of how lazy it is. I can enjoy a good troll, but a good troll knows his material, and doesn't repeat the same thing over and over. A good troll is an ARTIST!!

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#75 PB
May 12 2014, 06:01PM
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@Lemming

It's true, the quality of trolls here is pretty low. And easy to predict/provoke. I do like their commitment to hatred of Edler, sophomoric comments about the Sedins, references to 80s sitcoms and bizarre conspiracy theories alternately about Bettman or Linden. It would be nice if they could vary it up a bit though. If calling someone Cliff Claven is the worst one can do, well...

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#76 andyg
May 12 2014, 06:02PM
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@Lemming

The best therapy for trolls is golf and fishing.

It is summer you know.

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#77 BuffaloBillsOfHockey
May 12 2014, 06:13PM
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@Lemming

I'd never considered the possibility of trolling as an art form. The concept actually made me laugh out loud.

I was in the same boat. I was losing interest in hockey until I discovered advanced stats and data analysis. Unlike you, however, it doesn't make the trolling more boring to listen to others have silly conversation about how a player has, "A lot of heart," or similar vague things.

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#78 PB
May 12 2014, 07:30PM
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@BuffaloBillsOfHockey

If you are truly committed to trolling you need to be ready to thumb down every single comment posted on an opposition team's fan blog, you need to mouth nonsensical diatribes at everyone, and you NEED to convince everyone on there that they are bad people for believing in their team.

Also you need to be fairly humorless. OK, that's just the bad trolls. The good ones are actually somewhat interesting.

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#79 SpOilers
May 13 2014, 01:32AM
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@PB

Oh you Ciff Clavens need to get a room.

Suck it up boys, your team blew another decade and it's no ones faults but your own. Must hurt after so many decades and still with the same excuses.

You just keep telling yourself all the same things to make yourselves feel better...like blaming Alberta for your cup drought...or cup never has been.

Hardeharhar

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#80 SpOilers
May 13 2014, 01:33AM
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@andyg

Guess which team on the west coast is going fishing and golfing this year?

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#81 BuffaloBillsOfHockey
May 14 2014, 12:09PM
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@SpOilers

Ooh! Ooh! I know!

It's the Sharks, right?

After tonight, it could be the Kings (a cup winning team), too.

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#82 SpOilers
May 14 2014, 03:38PM
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@BuffaloBillsOfHockey

But but but, the Kings have won a cup in less time than the Canucks. Wait....have the Canucks ever won a cup? I'm not sure...

What's that? More excuses from a non cup team? Say it aint so Sammy!

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#83 BuffaloBillsOfHockey
May 16 2014, 01:49AM
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@SpOilers

True.

B-b-b-but the Boston Bruins have won lots of cups. A recent one! They even beat the Canucks in a game 7 to get that one!

And what are they doing now?

Oh, yeah. Golfing. After a limp second round exit against a team they had a mathematical advantage against.

The world of sports is a world of, "But what have you done for me lately?" That's why even fans of teams with no Stanley Cup championships like the Canucks, Sharks and Sabres don't care about the braying guffaws of Oilers fans still living in the eighties rolling around in their T-top Pontiac Firebird with Poison and Ratt cranked.

I respect the hell out of Oilers fans who can stand by their team as it exists now and bleed orange, white and blue.

I have no respect - and nor does anyone else - for miserable souls using prehistoric Stanley Cup wins as a vehicle for trolling.

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