Too Little, Too Late

Trevor Linden announced his departure from the Vancouver Canucks organization rather unceremoniously in a press release last Wednesday. It didn’t take long for the rehabilitation of his image to begin.

It was called an amicable split, a conscious uncoupling, even a coup d’état, but the analysis that followed nearly always put the now former team President in the best possible light.

Multiple sources have all but confirmed the relationship between Aquilini and Linden had turned acrimonious. It’s still not entirely clear why that is, but the prevailing theory is that Linden favoured a more patient approach than the team’s owner could stomach. History may judge Linden’s assessment to be correct, but it comes a day late and a dollar short, as has  often been the case over the last four years.

In the plethora of takes that followed the team’s announcement, it was Jason Botchford who made the most salient point about Linden’s departure: 

“You have to understand that in the beginning the plan collectively was a very quick turnaround. The plan was ‘lets go for it in the Sedins’ final years here’. Jim talked about it publicly: ‘turned around in a hurry’.  That was his pitch to Aquilini. That’s why Linden hired him. They were all on the same side back then. It was going to be a retool- on-the-fly, the team was going to remain competitive, and in the Sedins’ two last years, they were going to be a playoff team… 

So now, flash forward four years, it rings a little hollow to me to say he stabbed him in the back because he believed in an accelerated rebuild and Trevor didn’t. Jim always believed in an accelerated rebuild. This is a guy who in 2016- this is two years ago- openly said “I want PK Subban” and he was willing to trade the #6 overall pick for PK Subban, who was 27 years old at the time. In that same offseason, they traded a top pick and a first round draft pick for Erik Gudbranson. They signed Loui Eriksson for at 36 million dollars  so that in those first 2 years of that contract he could have success with the Sedins… This offseason, Jim flirted with the idea of trading the seventh overall for Noah Hanifin. These are the moves of someone who wants to accelerate a rebuild. These are the thoughts of someone who wants to get a team to the playoffs sooner rather than later. Trevor’s eyes were wide open through all of this. Did he change overtime? Yeah. 18 months ago there was a change and he started believing in a long-term vision. It wasn’t a great vision, they never had founding principles of a rebuild. Their direction was never ‘let’s trade for picks, lets leverage cap space to try and get assets’…

…Jim had a meeting with the owners that Linden wasn’t in on where he pitched an 85-million-dollar plan to get Tavares… Is that backstabbing? I mean, you hired the guy to turn things around quickly. He’s always operated that way… Trevor knew what Jim was all about. That’s the reality. He is what he is. He’s always been that way… he’s changed a bit here and there but it’s not like Jim started trading vets for picks and then flipped to the other side. This is how it’s always gone.”*

A close reading of the history of the post-Gillis Vancouver Canucks suggests that the earliest instance of significant conflict between the former President of Hockey Operations and ownership occurred in the 2016 offseason. The rumour is that Francesco Aquilini wanted former head coach Willie Desjardins gone after his disastrous sophomore season, but Trevor Linden issued an ultimatum to the team’s unsatisfied owner: if Desjardins’ time was up in Vancouver, than so was his.

In retrospect, it was a strange hill to die on. Desjardins’ next season behind the bench was essentially a carbon copy of the one that had put him on notice a year earlier, and he was promptly fired. It’s unclear what Linden’s motivations were for sticking up for the team’s embattled former bench boss, but it gives us a loose timeframe for his possible change of heart. By all accounts, from the time he was hired to the end of his second season as team President, the organization was on the same page.

Over those first two years, Linden presided over some of the team’s most flawed and shortsighted decisions. In those first two years, the team jettisoned a pair of prospects that would go on to play in the NHL in Jared McCann and Gustav Forsling. They made a habit of adding draft picks as sweeteners to get deals done. They committed significant money and term to veteran players. They even specifically targeted fringe players between the ages of 22 and 25 as a half-measure that would make the team slightly younger but also help them remain competitive. Those moves were all made with the intention of making the team more competitive in short-term, by all accounts with the approval of the entirety of the front office, including Trevor Linden.

What gets lost so often in assessments of the efficacy of the Linden-Benning regime is that they failed at their initial stated goal. The Canucks did not turn things around in a hurry, bungled the retool-on-the-fly, and ultimately could not deliver on their plan to provide the Sedins with a new supporting cast of veterans and youngsters that could get them back into the playoffs.

Anytime they were questioned, the team’s brain trust did a good job of moving the goal posts and obfuscating the reality that the plan was always to compete right away. When that didn’t work, the mantra changed to the slightly more explicit rebuild the market is finally seeing now.

The most recent news out of Linden’s camp is that the team’s universally panned performance on July 1st was the final straw. If that’s the case, Linden’s displeasure would be justified, but not exactly laudable. It’s more than likely that the only people in the hockey world with a favourable outlook on the Jay Beagle contract are those that remain in the Canucks organization.

If you look at things from ownership’s perspective, Linden has had four years to turn things around. To advocate for a long and patient rebuilding process at this juncture is essentially to admit failure not only to exact the team’s initial vision, but also to amass enough young talent over the last four years to lead the team to competitiveness in the near future. Preaching a long-term rebuilding process four years in isn’t likely to inspire confidence in anyone. Francesco Aquilini’s influence on hockey operations has been rightfully maligned over the course of the last half-decade, but it’s unlikely any owner of an NHL franchise is going to find seven or eight years of non-competitive hockey palatable. That he was probably correct in his assessment doesn’t change that fact. Ultimately, this was perhaps the universe’s way of punishing Linden for the hubris he displayed as an executive with virtually no experience running a team in hiring a rookie GM  and assuming the two would remain on the same page indefinitely.

Linden has always been a treasured part of the community, but he’s also a brand. Walking away from the organization now will likely prove to be a wise decision. If the team surprises people, he’ll still get a share of the credit for amassing one of the best groups of prospects in the team’s history. If things go south, if the new wave of veteran players don’t live up to their contracts, he’ll be seen as a prescient figure; someone who served as the voice of reason and only wanted what was best for the team. It’s a savvy manoeuvre that ensures his legacy remains intact. Whether that should be the case is up for debate. Linden was an excellent player, but the evidence suggests the same can’t be said for his time as an executive.

If he deserves credit for one thing, it’s that he appears to be the only person from the Canucks’ front office to have learned anything on the job. Unfortunately, that’s not saying much, and it came too late in his tenure to really matter.

*Edited and condensed for clarity

  • DJ_44

    What gets lost so often in assessments of the efficacy of the Linden-Benning regime is that they failed at their initial stated goal.

    This article is selective in memory and accomplishment of Linden and Benning. While the 2014 “turn it around quickly” is often cited, the fact is they did: 102 pts and a playoffs. It was not a permanent turnaround, it was the last gasp of the aging team and core that remained. So be it.

    The state objective, from the 2015-2016 season til today was to “transition to a younger core while remaining competitive.” The latter has not been achieved, although last year was much more entertaining and they were competitive until injuries struck Sutter, Horvat, Tanev, Bartschi and finally Boeser. Focusing on point totals is also a bit disingenuous, since we all realize full tank mode has been employed my management after each TDL from 2016 on: trade or attempt to trade vets on expiring contracts and shut down any player with a hint of an injury. In short, they failed to remain competitive and mistakes were definitely made.

    With respect to “transitioning to a new core”‘; I suggest this is successful, and just how successful will become obvious this season and next. Who composes the new core? Horvat, Boeser, Pettersson, Hughes, Demko, Virtanen, Gaudette, Dahlen and a wealth of other prospects that have been patiently acquired and developed.

    Jackson’s narrative has not changed: trot out a 2014 quote made in a completely different context, and promote it as management’s current objective. Ignore the constant refrain from management that they will continue to build through drafting and developing. The Canucks have a top-3 prospect pool league wide. That happens through proper drafting and developing, along with augmenting the team good trades and undrafted free agent signings.

    The team is shaping up as one that will be competitive (maybe not this season) over the long haul. It is amazing what paying attention to drafting and development can lead too: I am sure this is a novel concept to those who tend to look on the pre-Benning management team with a misguided sense of awe. Perhaps they just don’t recognize the unfamiliar. We forgive you Jackson.

    • liqueur des fenetres

      So you’re saying that the separation was amicable (when all evidence points to the contrary) and that Linden decided that his work here was done and that it was time to devote more energy to his fitness brand?

      • DJ_44

        I really don’t care why Linden left. Welcome to the world of professional employment. Can’t tolerate the situation, control you destiny and leave like a professional. This is what Trevor did. Benning handled it professionally as well.

        • canuckfan

          Linden left at the best time possible where the draft and free agency were complete. I think that he had planned leaving not because of any infighting he just did not want to be in the spotlight anymore. From the beginning he didn’t really want the job but with the team on a real downslide with nothing but doom and gloom he agreed to take the job to put all the structures in place to build a team and stay competitive.
          For those who say there is evidence that Linden was pushed out where is it, all that has been written in the papers and talked about on talk shows is all third party news “I heard it from someone” “someone told me that was close to the situation”. Linden shocked the world with his move but his job had been done infrastructure is in place, there are players coming in that offer depth and talent to have players fight for positions. The organization was a mess when Linden had started but is now full of hope. The media in Vancouver is so pathetic they don’t report and investigate news they start rumours with no evidence and just keep harping on the subject thinking if they say it enough times it will then be considered true.

    • Dirk22

      Every team in the league ‘drafts and develops’ – obviously some better than others (mostly based on their place in the standings) but you won’t find any GM who would say otherwise. Let’s talk about he development side of things – what exactly is that to you? Where does it happen? Utica? Have any players been developed out of Utica? Maybe it’s Vancouver? You think there are teams out there that don’t emphasize the development of their prospects? Wake up and stop being another excuse maker.

      It’s the other stuff that is the measure of a management team. For that reason, Linden was a failure and should never have taken the job. It was nothing more than a PR move when fans started to turn on Gillis. It was his job to assess the state of the franchise at the time he took over and make the best decisions. A mirage of a 2014-15 season should have done nothing to change that. How thick do you have to be to think that was the ‘start’ of something?

      • Defenceman Factory

        I agree the overall performance of this management regime has been poor. Benning has always worn responsibility for the moves made but I have always suspected Linden was a driving force or at least a willing participant in the moves to keep the team competitive. It is feasible, given his time with the NHLPA, that Linden was at least partly responsible for the bloated value of many of the contracts signed under his leadership. Boston does not overpay and has often been criticized for having deep pockets and short arms. Benning had no reputation for overpaying before he was in Vancouver.

        It took awhile but the Linden Benning regime has put in place an effective drafting process and the management and coaching personnel in Utica looks strong. In one of Gilman’s last Wednesday radio spots he shed some light on the previous regime’s drafting failures. He stated Delourme was a fabulous scout but unable to develop “the list” effectively. He also said an internal evaluation showed they seriously undervalued accomplishments in the WHL and therefore the players coming from that league.

        Benning is now left to his own devices and whatever Linden’s influence was should become clearer. Given Benning’s latest interview with Sportsnet he doesn’t sound like he is in a hurry to aim for the playoffs or to put young players into the line-up before he thinks they are ready. This sounds like an approach that will be frustrating for those wanting a youth movement now. Benning better figure out how to move veterens over the next couple years because waiting for contracts to expire will be too slow for everybody.

  • Goon

    The idea that the Canucks could have restructured and remained competitive for the remainder of the Sedins’ contract wasn’t a terrible one – look at what San Jose has done to maintain their team as Thornton and Marleau have come to the end of their careers, for example. The problem, as you note, is that they botched this, and it should have been clear this “retool” wasn’t going to work after the second season, which is when the rebuild should have started in earnest. Instead, it’s when Benning gave away several picks and signed Eriksson to an insane contract.

    If the Canucks had started the rebuild in earnest immediately, they might have returned to competitiveness in time for the Sedins to take one more kick at the can. If they had course-corrected after it became clear the re-tool wasn’t going to work, they might be returning to competitiveness now. Instead, the team continues to pull itself in two directions – rebuild, and compete – and they’re going to be in the basement for the foreseeable future.

    If Aquilini’s not willing to hire someone who recognizes this, and give them the rope to fix the problem, the Canucks are going to be in a post-lockout Leafs/Oilers situation for a long time.

    • North Van Halen

      Again, nice revisionist story. After the first 2 years, management has given up a 5th for Larsson & a 4th for Pouliot and although you can debate the 5th for Larsson the 4th for Pouliot was well worth the price.
      Again, though the anti Benning crowd doesn’t like to acknowledge actual NHL players they have acquired: Dahlen, Goldie, Leipsic & Motte. Ummm, I’ll take those guys over a 4th and a 5th.
      He also flat out said yesterday to IMac the players acquired this off-season were not meant to try and make the playoffs but to make sure players were ready and protected when they arrived. So how exactly is the message mixed, that seems pretty clear tome.

      • tyhee

        1. “Again, though the anti Benning crowd doesn’t like to acknowledge actual NHL players they have acquired: Dahlen, Goldie, Leipsic & Motte. Ummm, I’ll take those guys over a 4th and a 5th”

        None of the players you mention was acquired in exchange for a draft pick-4th, 5th or otherwise. Dahlen was acquired for Burrows, Goldobin for Hansen, Leipsic for Philip Holm and Motte + for Vanek. No draft picks were involved.

        Further, you call them all NHL players. They might become NHL players, but so far:
        -Dahlen has never appeared in an NHL game
        -Goldobin and Motte have been bubble players, up and down between the AHL and NHL
        -Leipsic has just completed his rookie NHL season, not very impressive in 44 games with Vegas but pretty good to end the season in 14 games in Vancouver.

        It is possible that all four of the players you named could start the season in Utica, though I’d expect probably two in Utica and two in Vancouver.

        “After the first 2 years, management has given up a 5th for Larsson & a 4th for Pouliot”
        Well, they gave up a player they’d paid a 3rd round pick for plus that 4th rounder for Pouliot, but it wasn’t in the first two years of Benning as GM instead of Gillis. They also:
        -gave up a 2nd, a 4th and McCann in the Gudbranson trade.
        -threw in a 6th round pick in the acquisition of Emerson Etem.
        -downgraded from a 2nd to a 3rd (along with Bonino and Clendening) in the Sutter trade.
        -threw in a 5th with Zack Kassian to acquire Brandon Prust.
        -traded a 2nd for Baertschi.
        -traded a 2nd for Linden Vey.
        -traded a 3rd for Dorsett.

        It is nonsense to say that after four years all they’ve done about throwing in draft picks in trades has been a 4th for Pouliot and a 5th for Larsen.

        FWIW, I’m not saying all those trades were bad. I didn’t mind the Baertschi or Dorsett trades, for example. But pretty clearly the 5th for Larson was a dead loss, the 6th thrown in on the Etem trade was a dead loss and the 5th thrown in on the acquisition of Brandon Prust was a dead loss. As the author of the article stated, there HAS been a tendency to throw in picks on trades.

        “… although you can debate the 5th for Larsson the 4th for Pouliot was well worth the price.”

        There is no debate about the 5th for Larsson-it didn’t work out. There has been debate over the Pouliot trade between his supporters who generally look at his play with the puck and his detractors who look at his defensive play and question the wisdom of paying for a player that might well have been available on waivers shortly after. (I think that one is a good debate and am interested in seeing how Pouliot performs this coming season.)

        • North Van Halen

          Sigh..All those players were acquired instead of the 4th or 5th round picks the departing players were worth, I mean was Holm, who’s playing in Russia now, even worth a 7th?!
          Haters whine about the lack of draft picks, yet ignore these deals are each better than whatever draft pick they could have acquired.
          And the 50% chance Pouliot plays even as a 5th or 6th dman for 2-3 seasons makes him much more valuable than the 15% chance of an NHL player a 4th round pick gives you.
          Statistically these were all excellent deals, yet ignored or belittled by the haters

        • North Van Halen

          Oh and I said (since you love quotes so much) ” After the first 2 years, management has given up a 5th for Larsson & a 4th for Pouliot ”
          After the first 2 years. AFTER for emphasis. All those examples you site come during the first 2 years,
          Really, you’ve misread everything I said but thanks for keeping it civil..

  • Giant-Nation

    Retool on the fly was a plan to keep ownership happy. It was quite foolish. Since then trades like Hansen Burrows and Vanek shows right path. It’s been far to long and management was not decisive from the beginning on a complete rebuild. All of that is in the past and the Canuck fans are watching the hottest prospect pool ever assembled from Markee Goalies Defencmen and flat out star power forwards. The real pain is over now we can see a transition coming to a exciting new core. Pettersson and Boeser will keep fans watching this year despite the challenges of the win column. People will be watching Gaudette Dahlin Juolevi Demko closely to see if they get a chance to crack some games. There is still Jasek Gadjovich Lind Palmu Diepietro Woo on there way. So despite the extended wait this management who has been vilafied for lack of picks have quietly built a strong stable of solid NHL prospects.

  • Bud Poile

    The twins led the franchise for the previous, full decade so supporting them to take the team into the playoffs was very realistic.
    The first year was on cue,and if not for the Linden hire of Desjardins it is highly likely the team could have done better.
    Trevor’s coaching decision was indicative of his lack of knowledge.
    Benning put up with it for another year,as did ownership but by that time both Willie was seen as underwhelming pretenders.
    It is noted that Trevor threatened to quit over the W.D. firing.
    Both Hank and Dan’s offensive skills declined sharply after Benning and Linden’s first year. Coupled with an ageing core of vets and nothing in the cupboards the team fought injuries without a support system of young,skilled players to rely upon over an 82 game grind.
    The second year saw the twins production at 2003-2004 levels,when the twins were a mere supporting cast.
    So,Trevor supported the twins but by February of 2017 it was clear that the twins careers were in full decline and could not do as they have done for all those years – and that was put the team on their backs and win.
    There has been two,full years of rebuild,not four.
    The draft lottery was not kind but the revamped scouting team has done well.Utica is in good shape and the future is prospect and developmentally bright. That has never been the case in Canucks franchise history.
    Canucks fans have a lot to be thankful for as the prospect pool is in the top three of the NHL within just two losing years.
    Trevor is to be thanked for the nucleus of the rebuild and that was hiring Benning and allowing him to tirelessly rebuild the organisational depth, scouting and developmental systems.
    Best to you Trevor, and many thanks.

    • liqueur des fenetres

      So Benning finally got his way and WD was canned. But what I don’t get is why the succession plan was followed with TG being hired, why not go out to the market and see who else was available? Is it based on the good work he did developing Jake?

    • PQW

      “Canucks fans have a lot to be thankful for as the prospect pool is in the top three of the NHL within just two losing years.”

      More mindless, trolling drivel from the biggest CLOWN since Ronald McDonald guys… but what else can we expect from the same no-life muppet who gave us these gems guys…

      “I wished Jim Benning would have retained and listened to Gilman.” – Bud Poile

      “this parting with very good nhl and ahl prospects has me less and less interested in this team.”. – Bud Poile

      ” The Canucks need players that can contribute out of the gate, particularly on D. I would take Liljegren or Heiskanen. Glass or Vilardi if they go for the future. Hopefully it’s a player that is close to NHL ready come September” – Bud Poile

      “The Canucks won’t do anything until they get a QB on the PP” – Dud

      “The only thing that matters is the playoffs”. – Bud Poile


      • KGR

        PQW Do you have anything to contribute? All I seen are attacks on other people. Have not been on this site long, But, the “trash it” column seems to indicate where your opinions lay

      • North Van Halen

        Seriously dude, if you have time to stalk Bud like this, follow him around and look up his quotes from years ago, and I can’t stress this enough, you are truly in need of real human interaction.
        PQW, we give you permission, go outside, see the sun, enjoy the summer and most importantly, GET A LIFE!!!!

      • Defenceman Factory

        PQW sorry to see you found a new IP address (maybe you are at Grandma’s for the summer) after being banned. Unfortunately you are still the same idiot you always were under all the usernames you have used. Your stalking of Bud is just creepy. Most of Bud’s posts are unreasonably optimistic and not that interesting. Absolutely no one is interested in what he said years ago.

      • DogBreath

        Wow. Sounds like you’ve got a lot of issues with Bud Poile. Who has time to go back and track peoples comments over time?

        Lets debate ideas and views.

    • North Van Halen

      Bud I remember when you got shut down by Jackson, you used to be like these guys but insulting to the writers (Jackson nearly cried). You’ve become a rose coloured, cheerleading excellent commenter.
      Yet somehow several commenters follow you around, several insult you and many others worse than what you said to get Jackson all whiny, yet they allow it to continue?
      Jackson curious why you can jump all over Bud (and he changed because of it) yet several others on here are allowed to denigrate and insult at will as long as they back your side?! Man up dude!

    • Dirty30

      A lot of the hesitation to engage the rebuild earlier unfortunately falls upon the sentimental but somewhat misplaced loyalty to the Sedins.

      There is no denying their phenomenal contribution to the team and city and fans — however, whoever made the decision to be loyal, to try again, to build a team around the Sedins instead of building a team for the future, simply entrenched and intensified the structural issues that already existed — years of bad drafting and bad contracts. The new management added more bad decisions, bad contracts and bad coaching.

      Are things looking better? In some ways definitely— in others, it remains to be seen.

  • TheRealPB

    I’m not sure how you sell owner of a team that doesn’t have endless money and endless patience from their enormous fan base (i.e. basically only the Leafs) on an actual tear-down rebuild. It’s just cap space for us, but for most owners it’s actual revenue and expenses. I was talking to a friend of mine at the VPD who said it reminds him now of the 80s where they get offered free tickets to work security and nobody will take them. There isn’t an endless reservoir of fan appreciation in a place like Vancouver where you have a lot of other options. So I get that the Aquilinis actually wanted a fast turnaround. To their credit, the Benning and Linden regime has done a fantastic job of creating a real prospect pool as well as a robust farm system. To their detriment, they’ve got a very mixed record on both FA signings and trades; some have worked out and many have not.

    But I think the main point of this article (and Botchford’s) is flawed because you have no idea whether or not this narrative that Linden left because he didn’t agree with the direction of the team is accurate, yet you base the analysis on the fact that it is. There’s just no evidence of that. It’s as likely that it’s spin from Linden as from the Aquilinis or Benning. I don’t like the FA signings this year (and like the ones from last year even less), mostly because of term. But I highly doubt that’s why Linden left.

    • North Van Halen

      These guys actually think FA was going to completely tear it down after the Sedins $56mil investment, how cute.
      The thing that really confuses me is that the most important thing is building for 2020. It’s acknowledged Van has a top 5 prospect pool, something this team has never had in 50 years. Ignore the noise, ignore how we got here, the fact is the Canucks have never been this well stocked with youth. If doing what Benning has done for this prospect pool was so easy why havent we found someone who could do it in 50 years? Why are at least 20 -25 other teams looking enviously at our youth despite our never having a top 3 pick?
      If the Canucks bottom out this year (Benning has said the playoffs are not a priority), they get the other Hughes (or even another solid centre) and collect another couple blue chippers, won’t we be in really good shape for the future?
      Isn’t that the goal? What am I missing? Just that I don’t like Benning’s folksy ways so he must be dumb?

      • Dirk22

        NVH – you’re giving credit to Benning for having this amazing prospect pool. Let’s be clear where he has drafted: 6, 23, 5, 5, 7.

        Surely you can see the correlation.

        As I said in an earlier post, Buffalo has drafted Dahlin, Middlestadt, Eichel, Reinhardt, and Nylander in the same time. The Leafs have drafted Matthews, Marner and Nylander in that time. The Oilers have drafted McDavid, Draisatl and Puljarvji in that time. No ones dumb enough to praise them for being draft gurus and the Canucks picks don’t come close to those players. To think players like Lind and Gadjovich are anomalies that you don’t find in the second round is absurd. The reason they are so fawned over is because they only had one 2nd round pick in the previous 3 seasons (another fireable offence for a ‘rebuilding’ team).

        With the resources out there now, anyone with an internet connection could have accumulated a comparable prospect pool to the one the Canucks have put together. You need competent management to become a good hockey team – simple as that. Accumulating prospects is a shoo-in when you’re as bad as they’ve been.

        • North Van Halen

          Appreciate you finally decided to reply to someone with out insulting them, a discussion without being a dick is a discussion I can have. All of the teams you mentioned had the #1 pick in the last 4 years.
          Petersson was a coup, so was Boesser. Palmu, Gaudette, Trymakin, Jasek, Dipietro, etc.
          You say it’s so easy, why have’t we able to come close to this before? Anyone with an internet connection, stop the hyperbole. It’s damn hard and they’ve done a good job on one thing and one thing only but it’s the most important thing.

          • Dirk22

            Every team that is within the realm of the Canucks over the last 5 seasons (ie. the bottom feeders) has accumulated as good if not better prospects/players. Edmonton, Buffalo, Carolina etc. It’s not hard. It’s inevitable.

          • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

            Petersson, Palmu, Gaudette, Tryamkin, Jasek, Dipietro are all question marks and will continue to be for the next 12 months at least. You speak of them as if they’ve already been anointed NHL ready players. It was only 5 years ago that Gaunce, Jensen, Corrado, and other nobody’s were mentioned in similar terms. Drafting is and always will be a crapshoot. Some GMs luck out and have a slightly above avg lifetime drafting rate, much like faceoffs. I don’t think anyone is questioning Benning’s ability to scout and draft. My question is why can’t the guy do ANYTHING besides drafting the league alloted minimum amount given to each franchise? He does the job of a head scout. He just doesn’t do anything else that an actual GM needs to do in order to move along a rebuild. Where are the extra draft picks? Where is the acquisition of bad contracts in exchange for picks? Where is the thinking outside of the box?

          • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

            Last time I checked, doing the bare minumum as a GM in focusing on the one thing people give you credit for while failing spectacularly at all other aspects of the job is not that difficult. Just so you know also, prospects are prospects for a reason, history indicates that more than 2/3 of all prospects will not reach NHL reg player status. Therefore your 100% reliance on the current prospect pool churning out a half dozen pieces of gold is dubious to say the least.

          • North Van Halen

            Dumpster, the bottom of your argument is well thought out and honestly, I would like more ‘outside the box’ thinking.
            Comparing Petersson et al to Corrado, et al is just awful. When Gillis was in charge the Canuck prospect pool wa universallly graded in the bottom third of the league, now it’s top 3 by almost everyone (recently released Sporting News & Dobber)
            This is my problem with the ‘I hate Benning crowd’. He has made mistake, every move hasn’t been a mistake and quite a few hve been pretty good. If you guys could start acknowledging the good, we can start to discuss the bad. Right now it’s often unreasoned hatred.
            The prospect pool is good. Trading Holm for Leipsic was good. Dahlen & a 4th for Hanson good. Gudbranson for McCann & a 2nd bad. This is how you make reasonable arguments.
            I hate Benning so everything bad just isn’t true.

          • Dirk22

            Well yes because prospects graduate. You need to consider all players drafted from 2014-2018. Canucks are right with the bottom feeders – where they should be (some great prospects/youngplayers) but certainly not out performing their overall position.

        • Freud

          Dirk, the apologists and cheerleaders like to compare Benning’s drafts to Gillis.

          As if somehow the 2020 Canucks will be competing against the 2014 Canucks next season.

          It doesn’t matter complete failure got them their prospect base, that doesn’t make us feel good. So please stop bringing it up.

          • North Van Halen

            Holy revisionist history. Gillis blew every draft pick he made except 2…in 5 years. If Gillis drafting was just a result of finish where’s his Boesser, Gaudette? Dipietro? Palmu? etc,etc. Good god I could eliminate all Benning’s 1st round picks and he’s still drafted circles around Gillis. You’ve gone to a new level of imagiantion with this one.

        • Do you shoot yourself in the foot with your argument that “Every team that is within the realm of the Canucks over the last 5 seasons (ie. the bottom feeders) has accumulated as good if not better prospects/players”? We didn’t get any #1 picks (or #1 runner-ups in the case of Eichel) yet all of the teams you mention are just as bad as the Canucks. Moreover, they’re just as bad with the better prospects. We haven’t even seen our best prospects play yet (i.e. Pettersson, Hughes, Demko) nor the excellent depth prospects in Gaudette, Dahlen, Woo, Juolevi, etc. We have elite 1st line players in all of the core positions (i.e. centre, wing, defence, goaltender) and they will all mature at the same time.

          • Freud

            Every team has been drafting and developing. To pretend Vancouver is the only franchise drafting well is delusional. To state this group has drafted better than Gillis is pointless.
            Just in the division

            Sam Steel 1st Points, Regina WHL
            Max Jones 1st Goals/Game, London OHL
            Antoine Morand 1st Points, Acadie-Bathurst QMJHL
            Josh Mahura 2nd Goals, WHL Defencemen
            Maxime Comtois 3rd Goals, QMJHL

          • Freud

            Brayden Burke 4th Points / Pts Game, WHL
            Tyler Steenbergen 2nd Points / Game, WHL
            Cam Dineen 4th Points, OHL Defencemen
            Dylan Strome 6th Points / Game, AHL
            Nick Merkley 4th Points / Game, AHL

            Glenn Gawdin 1st Points, WHL
            Matthew Phillips 5th Points, WHL
            Eetu Tuuola 2nd Goals, U20 Liiga
            Andrew Mangiapane 2nd Points/Game, AHL
            Rasmus Andersson 5th Points, AHL Defencemen

            Stuart Skinner 4th SV%, WHL
            Ethan Bear 9th Goals, AHL Rookie D
            Kailer Yamamoto 6th Points/Game, WHL
            Cameron Hebig 1st Goals/Game, Saskatoon WHL
            Kirill Maximov 1st Points/Game, Niagara OHL

            Kale Clague 3rd Points, WHL Defencemen
            Gabriel Vilardi 2nd Points/Game, OHL
            Jarret Anderson-Dolan 1st Points, Spokane WHL
            Drake Rymsha 2nd Points, Sarnia OHL
            Austin Strand 3rd Goals, WHL Defencemen

          • Freud

            Jadyen Habgewachs 1st Goals, WHL
            Antoine Bibeau 5th SV%, AHL
            Dyan Gambrell 13th Points/Game, NCAA
            Alexander Chmelevski 1st Points, OHL Ottawa
            Maxim Letunov 1st Points, NCAA Uconn


            Nick Suzuki 4th Points, OHL
            Nicolas Hague 2nd Points, OHL Defencemen
            Lucas Elvenes 4th Points, U20 SHL
            Erik Brannstrom 2nd Points, U20 SHL D
            Nikita Gusev 2nd Points, KHL

          • Freud

            This is fun. So almost every team in the division has a slew of prospects with resumes that rival Vancouver’s group. But we’re to believe Vancouver’s prospects are something special and Benning should be forgiven for all the other failures because his group is special?

          • DJ_44

            Not one of these teams has a pool that rivals Vancouver’s…. And it is not even close. SportingNews has them #3…. And that is on the low side of where they should bee.

            But…but….but….. That’s not HOW you do a rebuild…..give up.

          • “But we’re to believe Vancouver’s prospects are something special and Benning should be forgiven for all the other failures because his group is special?”

            But they are special. We had 5 players in Button’s Top 50 Prospects and just today, the Sporting News released a report that had 3 Canucks in the Top 30 (of a 50 prospect list). We have the #1 rated prospect not playing in the NHL – how can you say that Pettersson wasn’t special, given that Benning went off the board to take him at #5 instead of Glass? Finding a Hobey Baker winner in the 5th round, just like finding Gaudreau in the 4th? I’m a broken record here but Dahlen and his legendary work at Timra, Palmu winning Rookie of the Year, etc. Moreover, Dirk22’s examples are also the product of teams that won lottery spots – conversely, Benning built a great prospect pool despite falling a few spots in the lottery.

            Moreover, I’m not saying that Benning should be forgiven for his mistakes. He should be rightfully roasted for some of his trades, UFA signings, resignings, and not firing Desjardins a year earlier. But that doesn’t take away from his core strength (and the Canucks’ competitive advantage) in his drafting.

          • Dirk22

            Why is that shooting myself in the foot?

            Take any of these bottom feeding teams: Arizona, Buffalo, Edmonton, Carolina, Colorado. Look at their U-23 players and compare those to the Canucks. My argument isn’t that the Canucks have bad prospects – I like their prospects, particularly Hughes and Pettersson – it’s that people are praising Benning for doing something that is inevitable with being a bottom feeder. You would basically have to forfeit draft selections not to accumulate a good prospect pool with where they have finished. Every team does it.

          • Dirk22

            Here I’ll do it for you:
            Top 6 U-23 players (2014 draft – now)

            Carolina – Hanifin, Aho, Svechinov, Necas, Bean, Fox
            Buffalo – Dahlin, Middlestadt, Reinhardt, Nylander, Eichel, Guhle
            Edmonton – McDavid, Draisatl, Puljujarvi, Benson, Yamamoto, Bouchard
            Arizona – Chychrun, Keller, Dvorak, Strome, Hayton, Perlini
            Vancouver – Boeser, Juolevi, Hughes, Pettersson, Demko, Virtanen

            Canucks do not stand out among these teams. All bottom feeders the last 4 seasons. All good young players.

          • North Van Halen

            But the Canucks also have Lind, Jasek, Gaudette, Dipietro, Gadjovich, Rathbone, Daheln, Brisbois, etc. No top 3 picks, a top 6 thats in the neighborhood of those you listed and depth that well surpasses…

          • KGR

            Freud. Thanks for the research and reasoned response. Looked up the top 50 players not in the NHL and a number of those names came up. The difference I would say is in the top end of the Canucks prospects and the depth of the quality prospects. Juolevi, Demko, Petterson and now Hughes should be very good players. If one of three stick from the remaining prospect pool that will yield another 6 or 7 players. Half way there!
            Why the argument saying Vancouver’s drafting is a fluke? At least – it is as good as everybody else’s. It’s been a long time since any Canuck fan has been able to say that!
            I wake up each morning with the thought that it’s going to be a good day. Even if i am wrong….it’s still a choice I would rather make.

        • bobdaley44

          They had zero top three picks. Thats the difference. Highest was number five. A little tougher when you’re out of the running for any generational players.

          • speering major

            Yeah this is just weird comparisons

            BUF had a #1, #2, #2, and a couple more top 10 picks in there
            EDM had a #1 (not just a lottery but a Mclottery), #3, and #4
            TOR had a #1 and #4

            Carolina has had a more similar drafting position but with a #2 and #5

            The Canucks highest draft position has been 5. All those teams have had significantly better drafting position. Give the Canucks Laine, Draisaitl, and Dahlin vs Oli, Jake, and Hughes and that’s kind of what the Canucks look like with Buffalo’s lottery luck. It’s all luck and zero skill to draft Eichel, Dahlin, Mathews, Laine, Mcdavid, etc. Benning had real decisions to make in his draft position and overall has done very well (except its too early to give him a final grade). Boeser, Petterson, Demko, Tryamkin, and Gaudette were all fantastic picks. Hughes fell in his lap and it’s too early to judge Oli, Lind, Dipietro, Woo, etc

            Canucks have a strong prospect pool which is being ranked 3rd. I’m not saying it should be ranked 2nd but I do think it’s better than Philly. Benning did this with zero picks inside the top 5. It’s far too early to give Benning a final grade but he deserves full credit for having a top group of prospects

    • Tedchinook

      Both Aquilini and Benning have been very upfront with their understanding that the rebuild is a long, slow process and they plan to stay the course. And their actions for at least the last year and a half support that position, so I don’t see how the narrative that Linden wanted to go slow and Aquilini/Benning wanted to cut corners has any traction.

    • liqueur des fenetres

      You’re right, we don’t know why Linden left. For all we know FA banned skinny suits and that was it. What we do know is that Linden was hired for his brand (and not his executive experience) and that his brand is critical to his future earning potential. We also know for a fact that the split wasn’t amicable, otherwise Linden would be out there supporting his brand and its partneship with the team.

      Maybe skinny suits are enough of an issue to get Linden to walk away. But as fans of the team we deserve to know more, otherwise we are just wallets that support the team.

    • Rodeobill

      I think you hit the nail here. The REAL plan for any ownership first and foremost, is not to win the cup, not to make the playoffs, but to keep a big as possible fanbase and sell tickets. This is easily aligned with a winning team, but not necessarily so. Hard to do though after the cup run, bandwagoners inevitably falling off. They should have made the plan “make the team fun and entertaining to watch while we rebuild.” If you are going to stink it up, stink it up in style! Put a tiger williams in there somewhere! Come to think of it, this might just be their new plan!

  • andyg

    Benning will not be here by the end of this season. This will be a disaster of a tire fire. Let’s hope that none of the kids are used as trade bait to find short term help. This is when massive misstakes are made. Benning will feel the pressure to succeed more then ever.

    • North Van Halen

      “We still have cap space,” Benning said. “If we were thinking about making the playoffs next season, we’d have signed James Neal or David Perron or someone like that. But we didn’t.”

      Benning said Aquilini has not said anything to him about speeding up the rebuild.

      “Every year we’re going to add one or two good, young players and at some point, we’re going to be really good,” Benning said. “But we can’t rush this process.”

      • liqueur des fenetres

        “…Jim had a meeting with the owners that Linden wasn’t in on where he pitched an 85-million-dollar plan to get Tavares…”

        “We still have cap space” because Tavares wouldn’t give him a meeting. LOL

        • North Van Halen

          You are quoting Botchford – specuualtion to fuel the Botchford/blogger inspired I am so smrt campaign. Can you get a quote from Benning or Aqualini or Linden or you know anyone not making stuff up?!

          • Defenceman Factory

            Of course ownership would want to see a plan on what it would take to land Tavares. Every team probably went through that exercise. What Botchford doesn’t know was if Linden developed the plan with Benning (he probably did) and whether Benning or Linden believed chasing Tavares would be wise. Clearly the team did not take a run at Tavares. Botchford has completely fabricated the context of any meeting between ownership and Benning regarding Tavares.

          • DJ_44

            Botchford walks the line. He does not lie (usually), he doesn’t have the balls. He insinuates with speculation for the purpose of entertainment (he is the WWE to freestyle (Olympic) wrestling; one is actually a real sport). Insinuation and speculation is a cowards way forward.

          • North Van Halen

            I am seriously saying we don’t know the truth, this is Botchford’s version of it. Are you saying this is fact. Is there one piece of evidence beyond this article?
            I don’t vilify based on innuendo. Facts and sources or it’s not true.

          • liqueur des fenetres

            Exercise? The Canucks had more than enough cap space to go after JT, what Benning needed was FA’s permission to extend such a massive offer, so that’s why they had the meeting.

          • Defenceman Factory

            yes window licker it is a very significant exercise. The maximum salary is over $15 million/year and maximum term is 7 years. To chase Tavares would require max term with a NMC and all or near max salary. Before that contract expires all the current young players and prospects will have finished their ELCs and be on their next contract. Before chasing Tavares any team would need to know what that looks like for their future.It requires salary and salary cap projections.

            There are very few people who comment on this site who actually believe Benning is a good GM but your unfounded, biased accusations should always be refuted. If one was to believe your perspective on Benning he is devious and conniving while at the same time so dumb he can barely function in the human race. The truth is he is neither devious or dumb. He was a new GM who had a solid record of drafting. He has had to manage a situation with an even less experienced President who insisted on hiring an inexperienced coach, a meddling owner, an organization that had been burnt to the ground by the previous regime and a dysfunctional scouting department. Some areas he has done okay in others not so much.

            The Canucks are about to turn the corner. Linden has served his original purpose of providing PR cover through some poor years. Maybe Linden started to believe he could run the organization longer term but he doesn’t have the chops. The Canucks now need solid planning to build their roster as they edge back into contention. The next president will hire a GM with that skill set.

      • Dirk22

        This is unbelievable-he’s basically saying they could have signed better players if they wanted to be better? And you’re buying that? He spent $8 mill/year on plumbers instead of spending $8 mill/year on good players because he didn’t want to make the playoffs! Right!

        • North Van Halen

          Slow your anger man it’s clouding your reasoning.
          Benning knows where they are, a couple years from competing and several from a cup. Signing Perron and Neal (which they had the money to do) gets them better and likely gets them perfectly into that 12 – 20th place purgatory we all dread. Instead after losing 3 of their top 5 scorers they were replaced by 3 guys who work hard and are good at defense. There is very little chance replacing the Sedins & Vanek with Beagle et al makes Vancouver better. Harder to play against, tougher, not better. They are there to play the right way and ensure no rookie is forced into the lineup before they are ready. As quoted earlier they are not there to pursue a playoff spot. The term sucked but the idea these guys were brought in to make this a playoff team is laughable. So, Bennings stated goal is to not press for the playoffs, to build and accumulate the prospect pool.
          I’m not sure why you think this isn’t what they are doing since they actually said this was what they are doing.

          • Kneedroptalbot

            North Van H, I agree with your accessment. It should be a ton of fun to watch the Nucks in the next 2-3 years. Not only is the prospect pool bright, but recent looking at the draft history, most of the players are exceptional skaters. Fast skilled hockey is the future and its exciting to watch.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      This is true and I don’t know why it’s being trashed. The absolute worst thing a team can do is allow an imperiled executive to make desperate moves to save his job. Benning knows he’s on a short leash, and if Aquilini is anxious about losing, JB does have options for how he can improve the team in the short term. They would be disastrous for the long term plans, but might get us some more wins (ie: trading more picks, or prospects, for immediate help). There’s a very good reason why out-of-favour executives at big companies are canned very quickly and relieved of duty rather than being allowed to dangle: self-interested employees can never be expected to put the company first.

      Aquilini either needs to reinforce to Benning that he’s going to be patient to allow him to enact his vision (whether that vision is a good one is a separate question), or move on ASAP.

      • North Van Halen

        Now that I agree with but the message coming from both Aquilini & Benning that are public has been patience and no moving of picks or prospects and the quote is above.
        Someone please find me a quote where anyone says anything about A) trying to make the playoffs B) trading picks or prospects C) Rushing the rebuild.
        Oddly those quotes are only coming from Bloggers, Botchford and the I hate Benning crowd.

      • KGR

        Chris – you make a valid point; but, it is speculation. I do not know the relationship between Benning and Aquilini. Neither does any of us. Ultimately it is Aquilini’s team and his decision. It sounds like any significant move goes through him anyway. If we have a change in Philosophy it will be Aquilini’s, not Benning (IMO). Cheers

  • Gampbler

    In hindsight (of course) that first season in 2014-2015 getting 48 wins was the worst thing that could have happened as it gave ownership, management, coaches and the fans false hope in the roster. Going into 2015-2016 what management group would think they would regress as much as they did with pretty much the roster intact other than (upgrading Bonino for Sutter?) and dealing Bieksa? Unfortunately, the Sedins regressed considerably, Vrbata disappeared, Sutter got hurt, Edler got hurt, they put Horvat into an elevated role perhaps to quickly and introduced two rookies into the lineup, while their defense struggled mightily with Bartkowski and Sbisa playing large roles. What is inexcusable is that they doubled down going into 2016-2017 and signed Erickson, traded for Gudbranson and had a defense that was even worse than 2015-2016. I will hold Benning and management accountable for those two moves alone as the worst moves of this era. At least the other moves, picks and signings are defendable to a degree.

  • speering major

    Ownership has obviously been hands on. This was clear when Benning came out and said they asked for more and blew the Hamhuis deadline deal. This is a business and ticket sales in this market are rough in hard times. With the Sedins making 7 million each the team was in a very tough spot. Its also a nightmare for the locker room. After making the playoffs they had a terrible season. You could argue they should have torn it right down that trade deadline a half season from being a 100+ point team. In hindsight that was obviously the move to make. They waited til the next deadline to start selling assets. They didn’t tear it right down but they definitely went in to rebuild mode.

    I would say they started a year late but I believe the whole process was shaped by ownership focused on ticket sales. I am still frustrated they have waited this long to deal Tanev and it would have been nice to see Sutter moved last deadline, but other than that they have done a good job rebuilding. A rebuild is about stockpiling prospects, and they have done that. They have had very poor lottery luck but with another poor season on the horizon, all it will take is drafting a true #1 center and this org is right back on track. Unfortunately you can’t control the lottery, it’s easy to look like a genius if you win it in the Mathews or Mcdavid years though. The LA kings are the exception to win the cup without a lottery win on the roster. Pit, Chi, Was, all won the lottery in a good year.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      There’s truth to that, sure, but one has to wonder, if it’s all about the money, then why spend so much money on free agents? I can’t imagine the revenue from 2 or 3 playoff games is going to exceed the money saved by replacing Sutter and Gudbranson with league minimum vets or young guys and not signing Eriksson. We don’t HAVE to spend to the cap if there’s no one worth spending the money on, and fans aren’t coming into the building to watch Sutter.

  • TD

    I don’t disagree with most of this article, but CA was supportive of the Forsling for Clendenning trade. I believe it was JD that stated this was the type of trade they should be doing. Targeting teams like Detroit that had a prospect who was NHL ready and waiver eligible but to roster space. He went on to warn about Forsling being overrated because of a good world junior tournament that was mirrored in the regular season. For Jackson to now talk about Forsling being jettisoned is revisionist history after CA supported the trade at the time.

    Hopefully Aquillini finishes all the development around Rogers Arena and looks to sell the club. I think the Canucks will always be in trouble with a meddling owner. Benning may be in support of a quicker rebuild, or he may have decided he needs to keep his owner happy to keep his job, either way I think half the posters on this site probably have more experience than Aquillini in playing and coaching hockey.

    • Jackson McDonald

      The point wasn’t whether or not it was a good trade, just that it was indicative of the team’s initial unwillingness to undergo a long rebuild.

      • DJ_44

        just that it was indicative of the team’s initial unwillingness to undergo a long rebuild.

        This is where the logic goes off the rails. The Canucks are successfully transitioning to a young core. Perhaps they were not willing to undergo a long rebuild because that process has not been shown to work more then the plan adopted and that is proving to be successful.

        They have a Top-3 prospect pool in the league. This would be a worthy objective of any rebuild. In that prospect pool there are three elite talents (Pettersson, Hughes, Demko) and a boat load of Grade A prospects and even more Grade B. All done without a top 4 pick and absolutely no lottery luck. This says nothing of the budding superstar already on their roster.

        I have not witnessed a rebuild that has occurred faster than three, soon to be four seasons the Canucks have performed. The much touted Leafs had prospects on the team from the 2010 draft to 2013 – then hit on their first rounders in 2014, 2015, and 2016 (which included an 8th, 4th and 1st). With Matthews the result of beating 1 in 5 odds, and without whom they would still be a playoff bubble team.

      • Gampbler

        If the thinking after 2014-2015 was that they were a playoff team, and only have the Sedins for another three seasons, why wouldn’t you target 21-25 year old players and give up comparable 18-20 year old players that were 2-5 years away? The only mistake in this thinking was the illusion of being a play off team the next few years and perhaps being to loyal to the Sedins, but hindsight is great. We are where we are now and I think they have a much better handle of what they have going forward

  • Jabs

    I love the direction this team is currently going and the elite and very good prospects that they are amassing.

    The thing that bothered me with Linden’s tenure with the team is that he was too close to some of the players, especially the Sedin’s. He once said that “we owe it to the Sedins to remain competitive”. This really bothered me, if anything, you owe it to the fans who pay the big bucks to go to games and purchase merchandise to support this team and that should be parlayed by rebuilding after a success team started to obviously faded, Sedins included.

    I still love Linden but his loyalty to his friends is his weakness in a cut throat business.

  • Fred-65

    With lets turn around thing quicker ie the Benning/Aqualini plan. The flaw is obvious their attempts have included, Gagner, Gudbranson, Clendenning, Ericksson, MDZ and Pouliot. Either they or their Pro Scouts do not have a good record or eye for veteran talent. It can’t be over emphasised enough how much the money spent of the likes of Eriksson, Gagner, Gudbranson, MDZ has restricted the future of this club

      • Fred-65

        The fact is IF … IF they wish to speed up the rebuild … they simply don’t have the acumen or staff to perform that duty. Their FA signing have been a outstanding disaster Just think the money spent on Ericksson + Gudbranson = Tavares …… That’s what crummy Pro Scouts do to a organization. Tell me this how much worse is Saunter or McEnemy worse than MDZ. Heck we had a terrible season how did MDZ improve on the standing, I know he cost the team $3+ million, add a further $3. for Gagner to the tab and you might get a real player. I don’t know who chooses or recommends these players but honestly who ever he is should be gone

        • Bud Poile

          Tavares took a discount and his cap is $11 million.
          So ,no, ten million on a bottom feeder is not eleven million on a contender. Tavares wore Maple Leaf jammies on Maple Leaf bedsheets and pillows.
          Besides,players take discounts to go to a contender.
          I thought that was common knowledge.

    • speering major

      They gave up zero prospects for all but Gudbranson. Considering how thin the D is, how expensive young D are to acquire, and how McCann has turned out, this is a very minor mistake at most and basically irrelevant to the big picture.

      Th Eriksson signing was awful but IMO it was for ticket sales and cost the team zero prospects. That has been Bennings model to ice a team the past couple seasons. Write cheques and build the prospect pool. These vets are going to be rolling off the books as prospects complete their entry level contracts.

      • Dirk22

        How McCann has turned out? He’s no superstar but he’s the same age as Gaudette (5 months older) and he’s a regular NHL’er who put up 28 points in 68 games in limited minutes. You think Gaudette will even get that in the AHL this year?

        • speering major

          Right, he’s not a core piece. It’s possible he takes another step forward just like it’s possible Gudbranson stays healthy and has a decent season. I’m not claiming this was a win for the Canucks but it was a minor deal at this point. Even Goldobin has produced at a far better rate than McCann in the minors. These are depth pieces at this point. So is Gudbranson. Maybe they take the next step but at this point they haven’t. A rebuild is around players like Horvat, Petterson, Oli, Hughes, Demko, and Brock. The depth pieces are important but a single depth piece on forward for a depth D man is nothing to get worked up over. Remember, Gudbranson is still young and has trade value. This isn’t the tire fire people make it out to be. I get that people don’t like it and thats fair, but some people are getting carried away on this one IMO

  • Freud

    Let’s not forget Benning was all in on trading for Lucic and publically stated they were close.

    LA gave up their first rounder that year for Lucic. You know Benning was offering up his too.

    If it was up to Benning, he would have given up Boeser for a year of Lucic.

    But let’s all fawn over the accidental rebuild. That came about only because of high draft picks due to failure.

    • Dahlenfan

      The canucks are a mess when it comes to icing a competitive team. They completely screwed up on their original plan of retooling on the fly. They missed on the virtanen pick. I believe he will be a good third line winger you could pot 15-20 goals…maybe more. But no ehlers or others. Boeser was a steal at 23. Juolevi was a missed pick too but could be a 2-3 defenseman maybe if he develops according to what Benning saw in him. Petterson and Hughes are homeruns. They have made poor decisions to ice a competitive team. Erickson guddy and others in the first 2 yrs. Last year they screwed up on garner but the other signings are easy to move. Mdz is flawed but we got him at a bargain and hes just a stop gap player. Benning and Linden have only started a rebuild since 2017 tdl and it’s a small rebuild. We haven’t traded anyone for draft picks. Only projects. The rebuild is finally coming together but I really hope they sell this tr and amass picks for next draft which is in van. I think the last 2 yrs of drafting they are finding their groove . Time will tell. We suck this year and get a top 5 pick again with some additional picks and then the rebuild is really under way. People are talking like we are at the end of rebuild but I say we suck this year draft in top5 and next year start flirting with .500 and by 2021 or so we have enough prospects to be pushing for the playoffs

      • Dahlenfan

        As for this year’s USA signings I’m kinda baffled. I could see why you pick 1 or 2 of those guys for depth and grit. Guy from Dallas is fast. For 2-3 yrs. But 4 yrs for 2 of them and 2 for the other. Wow. Weird decision. I don’t mind any of the players . But the length are ridiculous

          • Dahlenfan

            I agree and disagree with your comment. He has done a lot of bozo moves. Almost all his moves at the nhl lvl have been poor. His only good pick ups really are Miller Vrbata for his first year and vanek last season. Their drafting is looking like gold though. There have been some missed picks but there have been some hits from later rounds as well. The last 2 years I think they are nailing it. High reward picks. I honestly hope they can him but keep whoever his amateur scouts are and brackett.

      • Whatthe...

        Long-term would way rather have Jake than Ehlers come playoff time – all I care about is the Cup and Jake offers a unique set of skills…having him in the line-up with Pettersson, Boeser, etc will be huge.

  • DogBreath

    Lost in all the discussion on Linden’s perspective is that he had one key job when he was hired and that was to hire the GM that reflected his view of what the next chapter should look like. He didn’t choose someone with a track record of luring free agents, successful trades etc to keep the competitive (ie, rebuild on the fly). No, instead he chose someone with a reputation as an astute elevator of talent to rebuild the team. This is key to understanding his view. All the talk of rebuild on the fly was a nice idea if they could pull it off, but it was a long shot. He knew he had to rebuild the team from the ground up at some point and his view was Benning was the right man for this most important task.

  • Injuries leading to a lack of depth, is what killed re-tool on the fly.
    Of the last three years, it started well and Canucks were in it till Christmas, when injuries overwhelmed the team. This happened all three years. A rebuilding team can’t lead the league in man games lost.

  • Fred-65

    Strikes me this TL firing might be just that. I doubt JB stabbed him in the back, I’m thinking Aquaman just could take being contradicted by TL any longer. And he who holds the ultimate card wins the p!ssing competition. As in get outta here you’re fired

  • I don’t like Trevor throwing Jim Benning under the bus. Francesco fired him, so Trevor’s anger should be directed at ownership.
    Trevor won’t speak. Francesco won’t speak. Jim Benning has to answer all the questions.

    Trevor’s ethics were questioned during the Mark Messier era. He was called a weasel. I don’t think we ever got a proper explanation as to what happened then, and I doubt we’ll get one now.

    • DogBreath

      I haven’t seen Linden throwing Benning under the bus. Its not Linden’s place to come out and give his version of events. He realizes this is the team’s narrative to steer, so he’s receded from the public eye for awhile. He’s far too classy to talk.

      Instead, the Canucks trot out Benning and Green to take the heat. Aquillini hides in the background behind his tweets. It would have been nice if the owner had a more direct dialogue with the fanbase on this important topic.

      In the end, it appeared that decision-making authority evolved and hockey decisions appeared to go between Benning and Aquillini. Linden’s role appeared to change. He didn’t agree with something that has occurred recently that has obviously been building for awhile. So, he took a look at the situation the time he was spending away from his young family and decided it was time to make the switch. He probably looked back on the foundation he’s helped build and knows that his legacy will be attached to its future success.

      Its possible that its nothing more than this. But I’m just guessing….

  • Bud Poile

    “To pretend Vancouver is the only franchise drafting well is delusional.
    To state this group has drafted better than Gillis is pointless.” Freud

    To not understand how this franchise has repeatedly faltered since inception-and most especially under Gillis- is incredibly naive or very disingenuous.

    • Bud Poile

      “Mike Gillis and his staff did not do that. Chasing a Cup, they dealt their selections and failed to recoup them….
      To make matters worse, Gillis’ staff whiffed on a large percentage of the picks that they did keep, especially in the early going. At the time of his termination, no team had fewer draft picks that had reached the 50 NHL game plateau….
      …by and large, the Canucks were one of, if not the worst drafting NHL franchise between 2008 and 2013.”


      • To start the 2014-15 season, the Vancouver Canucks had two “top” prospects. Nicholas Jensen and Brendan Gaunce. That’s it. There was nothing else in the system. Cupboard was bare.

        This should never happen again!

        • North Van Halen

          No man, we had Hunter Shinkaruk too, don’t forget him. Benning was dumb to trade him, he’s awesome, bloggers told me.
          And in truth there was Bo, Cole & Jordan. Okay Bo

    • kermit

      I suspect that the longer one has been following the Canucks, the more you appreciate what Benning has done with the draft. There have been a few highlights over the years, like stealing the commonly believed ineligible Bure in ‘89 (thanks to an Igor Larionov tip), or aquiring both Sedins in ‘99. But our poor drafting has forever been our Achilles heel. I don’t ever recall having a prospect pool as promising as the one we have right now. Benning has to keep doing this, he has to keep the prospect pipeline full, once we have good depth at multiple positions, we will then have the pieces to play with to make meaningful trades.
      Although, having said that, it would probably be better if we had some else in the organization that is better than Benning at the wheeling and dealing.

      • Whatthe...

        Good post, you just described Benning’s plan as he has outlined it from the beginning yet bloggers, etc seem determined to simply ignore this fact. Entire goal with “staying competitive” was to build up depth at every position and every level…mgmt is well on its way to doing just that.

  • ManicSt

    What is obscured by this article is the possibility that Trevor Linden wanted to give the coach he hired a decent shot, and that he realized that the success of the first season couldn’t last.
    Blaming him for overseeing decisions in the first two years of the team, and then criticizing him for protecting the people that made these decisions while trying to learn from those mistakes is as cynical and unfair as an article can be.
    I’ve never actually been harsh on CA before, because I think this website does great work, but man alive.
    This article is a hack job that criticizes for loyalty and learning from mistakes.
    ” Ultimately, this was perhaps the universe’s way of punishing Linden”
    honestly, grow up.
    Who the hell would actually say that about a human being?

    • Beer Can Boyd

      “What is obscured by this article is the possibility that Trevor Linden wanted to give the coach he hired a decent shot”. RGW was the coach for 2 of the worst, most unwatchable seasons in Canucks history. He was obviously miles out of his depth coaching in the NHL, and should have been fired after season 2. If Trevor couldn’t se that the players had completely tuned Willie out, then he should have been fired then as well. Face it, Linden was nothing but a pretty face as president here, and when he started mouthing off to Aquaman, he was done. Its really not as big a deal as everyone in Vancouver is making it out to be, bumbling, ineffectual executive gets fired by unhappy owner. Happens every day out in the real world.

  • Whatthe...

    And yet the prospect pool was just ranked 3rd by sporting news…

    This entire blog is based on speculation…sorry but anyone who quotes Botch has no credibility.