The Odd Couple: Benning and Linden seem like they'll need each other

Thomas Drance
May 23 2014 04:59PM


New Canucks general manager Jim Benning faced the fans and media for the first time on Friday, and it was quickly apparent that his commendable accomplishments over a long career in hockey stand out far more than his public speaking skills. Though he was forthright and balanced, Benning doesn't seem to have the sharpest tongue. He ducked multiple questions on Friday with the old "it's my first day on the job!" dodge, he started a large number of sentences with a distracting, drawn out "well," and his syntax is littered with "like" and "y'know." 

In a telling moment towards the end of the Q&A with season ticket holders that preceded Benning's formal introduction on Friday, the modest lifelong scout was asked about his immediate plans for the near future and he listed an itinerary. No seriously.

"From here I'm going to the announcement," Benning joked, "then on Sunday we're flying to Toronto, and we start the scouting combine on Monday, so we're going to be there through the following week interviewing the players for this years draft, after that we'll start in on interviewing for the head coaching position and from there we'll head right up to our meetings in Whistler, and that's about where it ends for me right now..." at which point Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden jumped in, put a halt to the rambling, and talked about "definitely hitting the ground running" and interviewing "the next crop of Vancouver Canucks, which is really exciting." Essentially, or at least as it seemed to me, Linden threw his new general manager a lifeline in that moment.

Read on past the jump.

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NATION PLAYOFF POOL UPDATE #5

baggedmilk
May 23 2014 02:48PM

ISuck

It's Friday again and I know how much you guys look forward to the weekly Nation Drafts update! As expected, I have absolutely nothing happening in my pool since the only player I have left is Drew Doughty. It's a sad state of affairs. I can't even blame Chris Kelly anymore since the Bruins are out. The only thing that would make me happy is if one of you had Dan Carcillo on your roster since he, quite possibly, got the dumbest 10 game suspension in the history of ice. Elbowing a linesman for reasons unknown? Genius!

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3 critical decisions facing new Canucks GM Jim Benning

Thomas Drance
May 23 2014 10:23AM

#88803287 / gettyimages.com

If you've watched a television report on the Jim Benning hire over the past week, be it TSN or CTV or Sportsnet, you've probably noticed that there isn't much in the way of quality stock footage featuring the low-profile Boston Bruins assistant general manager. "I guess he's kind of beside Neely here, and he fist pumps, so... yeah." 

For those of us, like myself, who produce reams of digital copy daily - the challenge is similar: if you squint or treat the image like a magic eye, you can maybe make Benning out on the far rightHere's the image we're using over at theScore for the Benning hire, and here's the original photo by Charles LeClaire courtesy of the US Presswire. When I searched Getty's embed-able images of Benning for this post, I found better quality photos of his wife Rhonda than I did of the incoming Canucks general manager...

It's telling that Benning has been such an anonymous figure during his long career as a scout and front office executive, and on Friday that will change. When Benning is introduced in Vancouver he'll be thrust into the harsh glow and officially complete the transition from a no-profile front office functionary in Boston, to the general manager of one of the most heavily followed and scrutinized hockey clubs in the world in Vancouver. Linden's presence and customer service focus may insulate Benning from the burden of media responsibilities in a once-ravenous hockey market somewhat, but he couldn't go Greg Sherman in Vancouver even if he tried. (Who is Greg Sherman? Exactly).

Anyway, let's look at three major decisions facing Vancouver's formerly anonymous general manager right off the bat, and evaluate if he'll even be the guy making them.

Read on past the jump.

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The President's Man: On Benning, cautionary tales, and the Boston model

Thomas Drance
May 22 2014 07:55PM

#483554831 / gettyimages.com

When he was hired as the president of hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks in early April, Trevor Linden was viewed in some circles with trepidation, particularly because he lacked any type of executive experience in hockey. Linden had business experience, but being the top hockey executive of a team like the Vancouver Canucks is an intense, demanding position unsuited to the inexperienced or the faint of heart. If it's not your life, if you're not going to get in early and obsess over every facet of the organization, if you can't sacrifice month-long biking excursions (or commute in from Point Roberts) - you're unlikely to have success.

In his first month on the job, Linden has already put most of these concerns to rest. He passed his first wisdom test, which admittedly was a tap-in (albeit a tap-in shanked by another inexperienced president of hockey operations in a major Canadian market), by firing John Tortorella. He's been extraordinarily available, amiable and frank in conversations with the media and in conversation with fans directly. Most importantly: he indirectly pitched his man to the Vancouver market and then went out and got him. On Wednesday, Linden hobnobbed with paying customers for half an hour before officially announcing the hire of new Canucks general manager Jim Benning at a season ticket holder event at the River Rock Casino.

Read on past the jump.

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The six steps to success for Jim Benning

The Stanchion
May 22 2014 02:56PM

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How does Jim get back here?

The worst kept secret in hockey was finally unveiled on Wednesday, when it was announced that Jim Benning had agreed to a multi year contract to become the GM of the Vancouver Canucks. Unlike Torts' inexplicable five year deal (I have to assume he has copious amounts of pictures of Aquilini doing something awful, like maybe eating a hamburger from 7-11), Jim Benning will most likely see out several years of his contract. 

This is Vancouver, however, so one can never be too careful about job security when running the Canucks. Today you're the General Manager firing the food workers in the arena, the next day you're at Costco eating the cheap hot dogs, because hey, a good deal is a good deal.

That's why Jim Benning should take extra care in certain areas to ensure his reign in Vancouver is a long lasting, memorable one. Now I can't help Benning out with particular roster moves, but I can help him out with regards to how he should carry himself in this market. After watching Mike Gillis yell at radio personalities like a disgruntled father who blames the divorce on the kids, after watching Brian Burke threaten everyone and their mother that he'd drive them to the airport, and after watching Dave Nonis cry the day he was appointed GM (#NeverForget), I feel I have a reasonable amount of knowledge to impart upon our new overlord that will help him out immeasurably. 

Read past the jump.. you know how this works, I shouldn't have to tell you to do this, COME ON.

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