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article imageWill Jim Benning be the next GM of the Vancouver Canucks ?

By Marcus Hondro     Apr 17, 2014 in Sports
It is one of the most coveted gigs in hockey, the job of an NHL general manager, and the Vancouver Canucks have not had one since Mike Gillis beat a forced but hasty retreat. Newly-appointed president Trevor Linden has a GM uppermost on his to-do list.
A name that keeps coming up is Jim Benning, a former NHL defenceman who played with the Canucks from 1986 to 1990, after being traded there from the only other NHL team he ever played for, the Toronto Maple Leafs (dealt with Dan Hodgson for Rick Lanz).
The reality, however, is that no media pundit this media pundit can find has actually been told by Linden, or anyone else in the Canucks' organization, that Benning is on any list of candidates to interview. The media has arrived at that deduction because it makes sense, because there is a heap of logic to it.
Jim Benning: natural fit with Canucks
Benning has roots in the West, he's from Edmonton and lives in Portland in the off-season, the city he played his WHL hockey in. He had, incidentally, a great junior career that included getting an assist in 30 straight games, a WHL record, and a point in 45 straight; in the 1980-81 season, the one in which he managed those feats, he recorded 139 points, the third highest points total ever attained by a defenceman in the CHL.
So Benning was a great hockey player (NHL totals: 610 games, 52 goals and 191 assists for 243 points) but is he a great choice for a GM? Unquestionably, and he is also the kind of leader the Canucks could use right now. Among other things, he will not bring to the ego Mike Gillis had and, unlike Gillis, Benning will be liked by other GMs in the NHL.
But it's his experience that really wins the day.
The 50-year-old has been a scout with the Anaheim Ducks and Buffalo Sabres, serving as the Sabres Director of Amateur Scouting from 1998 to 2004. Since 2006, he has been the assistant GM in Boston and got his name inscribed on the Stanley Cup when the Bruins beat the Canucks in 2011.
Benning ready for leap to NHL
Obviously this is a guy ready to make the leap to running his own team (he was in the running for the job in Buffalo last November when Darcy Regier was fired). Adding to all this, Benning was a teammate of Trevor Linden's for 2 seasons and of Canuck senior advisor Stan Smyl for 4.
So speculation Benning will be the next GM is based on more than simply throwing a dart at the board that is the Canucks future. Some have suggested the fact the Bruins are likely to be in the playoffs for a long run, maybe the duration, means Linden won't have a chance to interview him and yet must make a choice soon to prepare for the draft and free agency. Or that Boston won't want to part with Benning.
But they will find the time and Boston GM Peter Chiarelli won't stand in Benning's way of advancing, there's a tradition in the NHL of cooperating in situations like this and the same scenario has gone down before. So expect Vancouver to have their new GM in place in the days following Boston's elimination from the playoffs, or the team's celebration of their second Stanley Cup in 4 years.
Will John Tortorella survive Benning?
And if you want to speculate what Benning might do about a coach, know this: he does not possess the type of personality that tolerates a coach who provides a juicy sound bite each time he's near a mike. Nor, after his time playing in Toronto where he was depended upon more than was good for him or the team, will he want a coach that glues his bottom six forwards to the bench and overuses the veterans on the top six.
In other words John Tortorella will last as Canucks head coach for about as long as the Boston Bruins last in the 2013-14 Stanley Cup playoffs. And how long will Jim Benning last as the GM of the Vancouver Canucks? That depends on how long it takes the Canucks to get back to contending in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
More about trevor linden, jim benning, Vancouver canucks, Boston Bruins, NHL stanley Cup playoffs
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