In a move that caught the hockey world by storm, seemingly c oming way out of left field without any real tangible clues pointing towards it even having a possibility of actually happening Jim Benning has finally been formally announced as the successor to former General Manager Mike Gillis’ now vacant throne as the guy charged with calling the shots for the Vancouver Canucks. Well, sort of.
It remains to be seen just how much say he’ll have in relation to say, Trevor Linden, who was the one brought in to conduct the search for the team’s next GM, amongst other things of course. Linden confirmed the long-anticipated decision during a statement in front of a whole wad of season ticket holders on Wednesday night, allowing the team and fans to begin looking towards a medley of other important moves that’ll need to be made over the coming weeks and months.
Consider this your last chance to filter the phrase “Boston Model” out of your Twitter timeline.
The name Jim Benning has been circulating as a top candidate for the opening since the moment Mike Gillis was shown the door back in April. But all of the speculation and hearsay was finally given some credibility on May 8th, when Darren Dreger tweeted about how the two parties had met, and that the partnership seemed more like a formality than anything else. It was at that time that I said the following about The Man Who Appears To Have A Weirdly Low Number Of Pictures Of Him Available On Google Images (something tells me that moniker won’t stick, however):
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.
It’s important that we make that distinction, but The Phrase That Shall Not Be Named is one that’ll be bandied about left, right, and center ad nauseam by people online. You’ll hear a lot about how he played for the Canucks for 4 seasons (two of which were spent being teammates with the guy that brought him back to Vancouver), and how he’s coming from an extremely professional organization that showed him how to build a great team properly.
Congratulations, but it doesn’t exactly take some great understanding of hockey to realize that having a center, defenseman, and goaltender who are all one of the 3-4 best at their respective positions leads to successful results.
Something that does, however, is a good track record when it comes to evaluating the talent available in the entry draft, which is what the main talking point here should be. It was Benning’s work with the Buffalo Sabres scouting department from ’94-’04 (with the latter 6 years as the Director of Amateur Scouting) that’s the real selling point. During that time the Sabres were quite adept at plucking valuable talent from the draft:
- Derek Roy (2nd round)
- Jason Pominville (2nd round)
- Clarke MacArthur (3rd round)
- Andrej Sekera (3rd round)
- Jan Hejda (4th round)
- Ryan Miller (5th round)
- Ales Kotalik (6th round)
- Paul Gaustad (7th round)
- Dennis Wideman (8th round)
There was some speculation that the Bruins would perhaps block him from coming to the Canucks prior to this year’s draft, but clearly that didn’t wind up being the case. He’ll join the team immediately, and it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the current department in place. I think it’s clear what we here at Canucks Army think should happen. Abundantly clear.
Beyond the draft, he’ll have his hands busy bringing in a coach of his choosing,figuring out what to do with Ryan Kesler, and dealing with impending RFAs such as Zack Kassian, Chris Tanev, and Jordan Schroeder.
It should prove to be a fun, hectic summer, at least in relation to the previous snoozefest we went through in 2013. There’ll be plenty of further reactions both on this blog and elsewhere in the coming days. Bestowing him with a suitable nickname should be first on the docket, though.