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.
Hearing Boston’s Jim Benning met with the Canucks yesterday. He’s considered the frontrunner for the GM job in Van.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) May 8, 2014
Some believe Benning is getting the Canucks job and Linden is simply waiting until the conclusion of round 2 to make it official.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) May 8, 2014
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.