23

Benning extension sends clear message throughout Canucks organization

It might not be the news every Canucks fan wants to hear right now, but the team has signed GM Jim Benning to a multi-year contract extension.

He was heading into his final year under contract as the Vancouver General Manager, a year that has been labelled as a year to wait and see if this core can truly get this franchise back into the playoffs after four consecutive misses.

Having this upcoming season as one of the most high-pressure situations for a team — and especially its GM — the Canucks felt that they didn’t want a “lame duck” GM with just one year left on their deal.

With the off-season moves he made — trading prime future assets for J.T. Miller, signing Myers and Ferland — Benning clearly sees this as the time to improve and know what players will be in Vancouver when this team is back into the post-season. It’s been a while, but throughout the organization the sense is that they believe in this young core that they have.

According to Eliotte Friedman from his appearance on Sportsnet 650 Friday afternoon, that sense directly led to his eventual extension. Benning has been here when this core was put together and ownership believes in his ability to continue adding players that will eventually reach a higher plane of success.

Throughout the entire franchise, there is a clear understanding that they trust what Benning has built and believe that the young players on the roster will be the core to bring them some more wins and potential future accolades.

There’s no reason not to be excited looking at the names of Pettersson, Boeser, Horvat, Hughes — as well as dreaming on high-ceiling prospects like Podkolzin and Hoglander. With all the recent losing this team has been doing, to come out with one of the better prospect pools in the league should be as close to an assumption as you can get.

With time still on their side and hope in the prospects picked in the later rounds, the way Benning has come out of the draft in recent years has been promising and the team recognizes that with this extension as well.

The simple message that has been drawn out from this contract, is simply the Canucks having trust in Benning beyond just this one season. Trust to keep growing and evolving into a team that wants to improve while this group of young players overflowing with potential are here and have time on their side.

Whether or not Benning is going to remain as GM for his entire extension is not necessarily the point. Right now, all there is to gather from this, is that they don’t want any added desperation coming from Benning and some basic insurance in case the Canucks do perform above expectations this coming season.

It’s been a common theme throughout NHL history, an executive that knows they are on the hot seat making moves that will impact the team long after they’ve departed. If Benning had a modicum of that feeling, then the Canucks made sure that he felt comfortable enough in his position to not go out and make any win-now moves that could backfire.

Especially if the team felt that as a possibility heading into this season. If they didn’t want it to become a story, then with this extension they essentially muted any discussion about potential desperation or what the future holds for Benning.

This doesn’t change the fact that this upcoming season is a high-pressure situation. If they are again a team that loses more than they win, a change could still be made in the front office and the Canucks are no stranger to making those types of changes.

The team fired coach John Tortorella with years still left on his contract — at least they know when to make a change and won’t have a contract preventing any necessary move. So if things really go sour in the next several months, the team has shown that they can make that decision to move on.

No matter what, this extension should be seen as a simple safeguard against controversy in Vancouver. Just keeping with the status quo until the most obvious scenario where a management change is needed.

But they have demonstrated trust in Benning to stay with the organization where players he drafted are now the stars and future of this franchise.

Anything can still happen, but this extension essentially secures Benning in his own position and kicks the can down the road for when the team has to make a decision to keep this current management team in tact.

It’s a short-term decision, nothing else.

    • Spot on Dumpster… only a clueless loser like Locust would gloat over continued failure like this – but hey, what do you expect from a cowardly windowlicker who spends FIVE YEARS whining about this site… yet never leaves. LOL

    • I am not worried about a bottom 10 this season, you can get better by a bottom 10 pick. A little more worried about 2 bottom 10s, but what I mostly worry about is a 11-15. A team can stay middling for a long, long time; especially if they keep on having to drop salary to maintain.
      As for Benning’s extension, I don’t mind it. I am not a huge Benning fan, but I think the person you have driving the bus has to focus on the bus and not on what’s coming behind him.
      I actually think he had a decent summer this time, unfortunately he is hindered by bad decisions the team made in the past. Hopefully the team can shed some of those flat tires.

      • Every team is hindered by bad decisions, as no manager gets it right 100% of the time. There is too much uncertainty for that. Every decision is a throw of the dice.

        So has Benning made more — and more serious — bad decisions than other managers? Were there decisions that were completly inexcusable? That would make for an interesting debate.

        But at least the Canucks seem to be clearly improving. Other “rebuilding” teams like Edmonton have begun spinning their wheels before they’ve even had much success.

        • Nicely stated, KM. I made a similar point on another thread. Yes, JB has made some mistakes but in recent times, he has made fewer egregious decisions, and I think this year’s draft and free agent signings were really solid. I may be proven wrong, and the dice may come up snake eyes, but at this point I think he deserves at least another year or two. If we miss the playoffs both of the next two seasons, well…get the pitchforks out!

  • GMJB deserves to ride along with the young group he has drafted and put together. One constant that will keep the Canucks moving forward is the front office finding very good players in the middle rounds that will be able to step in as complimentary players.

  • In a way I saw last season as a kind of Year One- Post Sedins scenario and a truer new beginning for the franchise. Benning wasn’t going to build around two aging superstar legends and he had too much garbage to clean up from the last mgmt group. It makes sense to give him an extension because for all intents and purposes this is GMJB’s team now and let him continue. Those first four year of his tenure were probably among the worst for the Canucks for a very, very long time and I’ve seen every Canuck team ever. But this is the year to right the ship because there is something to work with now.

    • It’s time to shift the conversation to the work Benning has in front of him over the next couple of years. There is a lot and Benning bears some responsibility for needing to clear out some messy contracts.
      – lock up the young core long term
      – get clear of Eriksson and Sutter contracts
      – Develop Gaudette or acquire a 3rd line centre
      – Find replacements for Edler and Tanev especially the top pairing RHD of the future.
      – Ensure development work in Utica is top quality
      – Ensure Podkolzin and Hoglander develop properly

      As thehockeynews reports today the Canucks window is just opening. They may slide into the playoffs but are a ways off from contention. I can easily imagine them in contention when Podkolzin arrives in 2 years. Can Benning and his current staff finish off this roster by then. Maybe but I worry they don’t have the creativity and skills necessary to manage the cap and swing the deals necessary to finish the job. Benning needs to hire some help, especially someone who can negotiate some creative trades. By the 21-22 season the Canucks should be adding 4-5 current winger prospects to their roster. Finding good value for the current players they replace will be very important.

  • I like that one. That`s just what Benning needs. An Assistant GM who can help him make a trade and not get taken to the cleaners and maybe a 2nd AGM who can negotiate a contract without over paying and maybe a 3rd AGM who can answer media questions without mumbling and maybe a 4th AGM who will follow him around and whisper in his ear `Don`t do it Jimbo, don`t do it` every time he gets another harebrained idea that doesn`t make sense to anybody but himself.

    P.S. You people have to lighten up in the middle of barbecue season.

  • The message being sent is the Canucks follow the usual convention of the respectable franchises and won’t let their current GM go in to a lame duck year. Appearances are important when you want to be considered a quality organization by the management talent you attempt to recruit down the road. Whether you’re a Benning fan or not, this is the right move.

    • This was a bad move. Benning has shown he has talent is drafting young players. Most of his picks have potential to make it to the NHL. However, he has shown a marked inability to make trades that actually benefit the club in the bulk of his trades up to this time. His inability to judge the free agent market well has been proven. The Canucks will be better this year BUT then again it is not much of a measure of improvement from where they have fallen in recent years.
      The team is has about 5 million left to spend before they reach the cap with Boeser and Goldobin yet to be signed.

      Benning should have been judged on how the Canucks did this year before being extended.

  • should have extended him before this summer then maybe he would have been a bit more patient with the rebuild. The fact he wasn’t patient and rewarded for it, shows it was ownership that lost its patience.