Jim Benning talks about the coaching search, trading Ryan Kesler, and the upcoming draft

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Photo via CDC

On this Friday afternoon noted socialite and extrovert Jim Benning joined Matt Sekeres and Friend of the Blog Blake Price on their Team1040 program to discuss a whole host of topics; the coaching search, the potential Ryan Kesler trade, and the upcoming entry draft all inevitably came up, and this is of note because they have been (and will continue to be) the three most talked about angles around these parts.

If you want to take the time to listen to the interview for yourself, you can do so right here. Otherwise, you can read on past the jump for a transcript of the entire segment courtesy of our very own Thomas Drance.

On the photo of him and Marc Crawford that has been making the rounds:

“We’ve done a couple of interviews and next week we have interviews planned with a bunch more people, so, we’re going to do our due dilligence on this. We’re going to meet with the people that we feel have a chance to do the job, and then we’re going to sit down and make a decision…”

On how difficult the interview process is and what it entails:

“It starts way before they show up to the interview room. A lot of different individuals that we’re interviewing we’ve known or had a relationship with for a lot of years; we’ve watched them coach in Junior leagues, in the AHL, or in the NHL – so, y’know, when we sit down and we decide this is the route we want to go (we want to interview this coach), when he shows up for the interview there’s a lot of past history that we’ve talked about. We already know the style of coach, so I think the interview process is just one part of it. But there’s a whole other part of it that we do our work on before he even shows up.”

As a follow-up question, Price probed Benning about whether he felt that each coach had his own predetermined style and direction that he’d bring in, or whether coaches needed to be able adapt on the fly and change accordingly based on the specific personnel they’re presented with:

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“Yeah I do (think that some coaches come in with a certain style). There are some coaches that are teachers, that come from a teaching system, they have a system that they want to use. I think all coaches are in charge of the structure and discipline of the team, but some coaches are yellers and screamers and intense and other coaches come more form the teaching side where they teach their players. They’re firm, but they’re not yelling and screaming and embarrassing guys.”

This is too easy. When asked whether he thought the guys he just described as “yellers and screamers” can even be effective anymore in today’s NHL, Benning replied with: “I don’t think so. The game has changed, and the coaches that relied on that in the past are finding that it doesn’t work in today’s game anymore. We want to find a game that’s smart, has good communication with players, teaches them, and gives them the leeway to use their skill.”

I’d say that’s a pretty promising quote, though it should be noted that Claude Julien – the incumbent during Benning’s time in Boston, isn’t exactly the best example of a player’s coach. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s John Tortorella, either, so I get where he’s coming from on that front. There’s most certainly a fine line between keeping your players accountable and riding them into the ground.

On how many people the team plans to interview for the job in total:

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“Y’know that list changes day-to-day with new people coming available. From when we start to when we get to finish it’s going to be anywhere from 6-to-8 people.”

We’re planning on starting up our coaching profile series – which is, regrettably, being dusted off and brought back for the second consecutive season – next week. This is pure conjecture, but I’d imagine the names on that list likely include John Stevens, Willie Desjardins, Doug Houda, Guy Boucher, maybe Kevin Dineen, possibly Dan Bylsma if he hasn’t agreed to a deal with the Panthers already, aaaand..

Mike Johnston, who is gaining steam as a potential candidate as of late. Deservedly so. Benning was asked about him, and came across as complimentary as I honestly think he’s capable of being:

“He’s done an excellent job the last five years in Portland. They play an uptemop skilled game, and he has a history with the Canucks and the organization so he understands the market. He’s gonna be a candidate, probably. We’ve talked to Mike, so, y’know, it went really well. He coaches the style that we want our team to play, the interview went well.”

Moving on from all of the talk about coaches, Benning was asked about whether there was a chance that the team wouldn’t use its 2nd (and last) compliance buyout this summer:

“We’re still deciding that right now. We’re doing our pro-meetings yesterday and today. So we have time to decide that so I can’t give you a definite answer right now.”

I’d imagine that the most popular choice amongst Canucks fans would be David Booth, though there’s plenty of reason to believe that may not be the best usage of resources. Another option may be Jason Garrison, though it’s impossible to properly gauge his case without having access to his medical records. 

On discussions with Ryan Kesler:

“I talk with his agent on a daily basis. We’re trying to figure out Ryan’s situation, but I don’t have anything more than that to say right now.”

On his thoughts on this draft class:

“I like this draft class, y’know, the top-six players (and we pick sixth overall) I really like. So whatever guy we end up with at six I’ll be happy with. With that 36th pick we’ve identified some guys we think are going to be there, so then going through the mid-rounds, there’s guys we have a good feel for from different parts of the world. So I’m excited, looking forward to the draft.”

We’ll have a lot more content on the draft this coming week as well, and here’s a spoiler: we polled every writer this blog has to offer, and not a single one had Jake Virtanen anywhere near their personal top 6. lf you’d like some more reading to prep you for the draft, I’d suggest reading Rhys’ take on Sam Reinhart (EDITOR’S NOTE: or our 11th-15th ranked draft eligible prospects). For whatever it’s worth Benning didn’t exactly say “no” to a question about whether the team is looking to trade up. 

And finally, Benning had the following to say about the guys that the team will look to lock up this summer.

  • You know what is interesting?
    That he is being completely honest most of the time.
    When he says that they haven’t talked much about the buyout, I think he is being quite serious. I imagine his days are quite full with behind-the-scenes stuff still

    • Dimitri Filipovic

      Yep, you’re right. I hadn’t actually seen everyone’s final list at the time of writing that but from talking to a few other rankers I was under the impression that he’d be outside the top 10 across the board.

  • Guy Boucher? Nooooooooooooo, I still remember the Flyers standing still with the puck while all the Lightning players stood in their defensive positions. If you thought the Canucks were boring and un imaginative last year, Boucher can take them to a new level of futility.

  • Dimitri Filipovic

    The interview seemed to be typical talk about everything and nothing at the same time. I still have a feeling the Kess will start the year on the roster. With Speeza and Thorton out there those are buyers odds. Nucks want too much for Kess start to deal with Ottawa. Fact is if you are Pitt/Chi/Philly, all those guys will make you better.

    Pick a new coach have him sit down with Kess and see where you go. Best case Canucks are winning and all is forgiven, worst case trade deadline deal when he would be the best center out there. People can’t dismiss Gillis’s terrible trade abilities. I’m convinced some teams wouldn’t deal with Van just because of him. Benning will be a step in the right direction.