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.
Step One: Never mention the words Boston or Boston Model ever. Like, ever. Ever ever. For reals.
One of the worst narratives to come out of the loss to the Bruins in 2011 was the real or imagined idea that the Canucks were going to change up the way their team worked (i.e. winning) to try and emulate a “Boston Model” (which ended up involving a lot more losing than that Boston model appeared to call for).
From the outside looking in, it certainly appears that loss in the Finals to the Bruins weighed heavily on management’s minds, as the team did add several players that were “tougher”, but also with the unique ability to provide little to no offense or defense. Gone were Cody Hodgson, Christian Ehrhoff, and Raffi Torres; in came Zack Kassian, Tom Sestito, and two more games of Andrew Alberts.
Now it may seem odd to give up on Raffi Torres, a player who should have fit the bill for a tougher team, but apparently when an injury-plagued, at-the-end-of-his-career Marco Sturm is available, well, you don’t think twice about signing him. He’s like a Costco hot dog — a good deal is a good deal (except in this case it was not a good deal, it was a horrible deal).
The latest rumor of the day has it that Mike Gillis was never a fan of the so called Boston model, and that it was in fact the owners who were pushing hard for the Canucks to become the type of team that would serve a dual role of beating up hockey players as well as beating up people who were late in paying rent. If in fact Aquilini and family are still intent upon going that route, then I once again must emphasize, STOP REFERENCING BOSTON.
Here’s a quick history lesson from 2011. The Canucks had one of the best teams of all time, and lost a game seven battle against another very good team. You play that series ten times over, and the Canucks win half of them. There was no real need to change the team up, aside from making sure depth was always available moving forward.
And that right there is the only lesson Benning needs to bring over from Boston. Depth. The joys of depth. It’s the main reason good teams stay good, the ability to put young players, on cheaper contracts, into holes in the lineup. Milan Lucic’s punching power was not the reason Boston won in 2011. They won because they were a good team with top tier players, with better injury luck, and they had better depth. And also because Tim Thomas summoned the devil and made a deal with him to give him supernatural powers. Never forget that.
The point is, Boston won in 2011, and sure, it was horrifying to watch Zdeno Chara and Gary Bettman practically clash erections against each other, so happy were they Vancouver didn’t win, but just focus on building a good team and move on from that. Don’t label it the “Boston Model”. Label it the “Time to kick ass and chew bubblegum, but I’m all out of gum” model. Or something that rolls off the tongue easier.
Either way, shut up about Boston. Or better yet, talk about using the “Chicago model”, because they’ve won more cups recently. And it’s probably super easy to draft players like Kane and Toews.
Step Two: Fire Ron Delorme. FIRE HIM.
In the opening scene of Jurassic Park, the park’s game warden Muldoon is seen transporting a raptor into the park, when tragedy strikes. The raptor hits the side of the cage she is in, causing it to come free, allowing the raptor to grab the leg of a random worker. While the raptor is trying to pull the man into the cage, Muldoon grabs onto the mans arms, trying to save him, but he quickly realizes the only way to save the man is to shoot the raptor. He thus begins to scream “Shoot her! Shooooooooooooooot her!” but nobody listens. The man dies, the Park goes on to claim several more lives as the film progresses, and many more tragedies occur, such as the making of Jurassic Park 2.
Why am I talking about Jurassic Park you ask? Because Ron Delorme is the raptor on the Canucks. He is the raptor on the Canucks that if they had only just shot him at the beginning of the movie, they could have saved everyone a lot of grief.
Now, I know it might be harsh to suggest to fire a man, after all that’s his livelihood and by all accounts he is well respected by everyone he works with. He also has tattoos of Canucks logos on his body, so you know he loves the team. So I am not suggesting they fire him outright, just maybe remove him from anything to do with scouting. Maybe give him a new office and a random title. Instead of Ron Delorme, Chief Amateur Scout, maybe he can be Ron Delorme, giver of high fives and occasional hugs. Admit it, sometimes Dan Hamhuis looks like he’s in real need of a hug, well guess what, Delorme will have that covered from now on.
You can look at the Canucks drafting in several different lights, but the fact remains, during Delorme’s time in scouting with Vancouver, things have ranged from “maybe that was an ok pick” to “dear god, why is there burning trash on my TV, WHY WOULD THE CANUCKS DRAFT BURNING TRASH?”
Do what Mike Gillis never had the balls to do, bring in new life to the Canucks scouting department. Put a picture of Patrick White up on the wall, tell yourself “Never again.” and make the necessary changes.
Step Three: Don’t change your appearance drastically during a losing streak
This is just a solid heads up about changing your appearance randomly in Vancouver. The fan and media attention in Vancouver is a little higher than most markets, so if you walk on TV wearing a blue blazer and a mint green shirt, there will probably be a twitter account made about it two minutes later.
When Mike Gillis decided to grow his neck beard, it caused a tidal wave of reaction. It would have been fine if Vancouver was winning, because at least then people would have attributed the winning to the goatee. “Three wins in a row? Has to be the goatee.”
But when you are losing horribly? Well that goatee all of a sudden pointed out that the Canucks were headed down the darkest timeline. All of a sudden the goatee became the symbol of all that was wrong in Vancouver, and that it must be stopped. People began back tracking the history of goatees to prove that not only did they cost the Canucks the 2014 season, they also probably started the Great Depression.
Benning should just use Men In Black rule. Pick one more suit that he is going to wear for the rest of his life and go with that.
Step Four: Don’t be surly, or if you are, let Gilman do the talking
One of the great pleasures I took at the end of Mike Gillis’ reign was listening to him do radio interviews. A fun drinking game to do was take a shot for every time Mike Gillis appeared to be pissed off at Blake Price.This game would often result in making you drunk, very very quickly.
It was honestly fascinating to listen to. Gillis was famous for not revealing anything during his interviews (and to be fair, who could blame him after the specter of “bold moves” hung over his head for years), but somehow this turned from blandly handing out drivel to actively hating Blake Price. He would talk down to Blake as if Price had tried eating a cookie before dinner and was going to ruin his appetite. “I never said that Blake, did I? What did I say Blake? Whose a naughty boy?”
It created an aura around Gillis that irked people the wrong way. Instead of being the smart, cold, calculating GM of years gone by, he was now the angry, burnt out, wreck of a GM that was slowly throttling the life out of the team.
In comparison, Laurence Gilman on the radio was divine. He was friendly, amiable, and still didn’t say much of use, but he made you think he was up beat and working actively to fix any problems the team had. If you feel like you can’t handle radio duties, simply hand them off to Gilman.
Step Five: No more trades with Florida
Somewhere along the line the joke of Florida being Vancouver’s farm team stopped being funny and was actually eerily becoming quite accurate.
For the sake of everyone involved, it’s time to take a break from Florida. Maybe go outside and meet a couple of new teams, and try trading with them. None of the trades ever really work out, and most times it just becomes really awkward explaining to people that Florida isn’t ACTUALLY Vancouver’s farm team, that is in fact just a joke because several trades have occurred between the two teams.
It’s not that we don’t love Florida, it’s just that we think it’s time to move on. I’ve heard Nashville is pretty…
Step Six: Become BFF with Darren Dreger
And if we’re being completely honest with each other, this is probably the most important step of them all. BECOME BEST FRIENDS WITH DARREN DREGER. Do this right away. Even if you’re already “kind of” friends with him, upgrade that to full out best friends forever mode. The way your team will be covered by TSN will change dramatically by this one simple step.
Instead of dealing with this after a trade:
You will instead deal with this:
Seriously, put down whatever you’re doing, and invite Dreger out for beers at your earliest convenience. You should have seen Dreger when Nonis was fired in Vancouver and he found out Gillis was replacing him. His anger never subsided and it became fun to watch any trades or close trades go down in Vancouver, as you could set your watch to a follow up tweet by Dreger assuring you that somehow Gillis screwed things up.
Luongo’s trade value somehow plummeted at deadlines to being worth nothing more than a mid round draft pick at times. I think at one point it was suggested that Gillis would have to offer up a Sedin in order to get rid of Luongo’s contract.
If you want to have Eastern media on your side, then make sure your Dreger friendship levels are very high, I cannot stress this enough. An added bonus is you can speak straight through Dreger if a player or other team pisses you off. Anaheim not offering up enough for Ryan Kesler? Simply let Dreger know and before you know it, you’ll have this:
The Ducks won’t even know what hit them.
By simply following these six steps, I am positive Benning will last at least through to next season. The only question left, however, is will Jim Benning ever wear a mint green shirt?
The system is working already..