Jim Benning has been officially introduced as the Vancouver Canucks’ new general manager, in a live Q&A on the team’s YouTube page on Friday morning.
The Canucks and team president Trevor Linden made the announcement about Benning on Wednesday. He is the 11th GM in Vancouver’s franchise history.
(*Benning will be unveiled to the media at a press conference, scheduled for Noon and viewable above…)
“Jim was a guy that’s been in hockey his whole professional life, 23 years, been at every level,” Linden said, in an interview with Canucks TV. “Having someone with that vision as our manager is really going to shape our organization.. we just really connected on a hockey level. Our beliefs on how success is built in the National Hockey League were very aligned.
“We’ve got some work to get done this summer and I do believe we’ll be playoff team next year and we’ll be in the Stanley Cup tournament, as they say.”
Benning will replace Mike Gillis, who was ousted from Vancouver’s GM office in April. Benning has been with the Boston Bruins since 2006, as the team’s assistant GM.
Linden made the first announcement of Benning on Wednesday to a group of season ticket holders, at a Canucks town hall meeting on Coquitlam. The Canucks then confirmed it themselves.
Linden has often referred to the Boston Model as his ideal model for a team, citing the team Benning very obviously has had a hand in building – the same team that upset the Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
The Boston Model came up again during Friday’s Q&A, and Benning said he truthfully didn’t know what the Boston Model really was. He said he and the Bruins just focused on making the playoffs every year, and then tried to add younger players every year to ensure their team would continue to stay competitive year-after-year.
(*The Bruins are known for having a team that is four lines deep on offence, and uses all six defencemen regularly, too. The Boston Model refers to depth trumping one or two terrific lines, and the Bruins have exploited that matchup in recent years, most notably over the Crosby- and Malkin-led Penguins in last season’s Eastern Conference Final.)
“If you look at the Boston Model, (Shawn) Thornton, a fourth line guy but such an important player on that team,” Linden told Ron Maclean, on Hockey Night in Canada in April. “He’s included and has a big role in that team, and that’s what makes teams.”
Benning said he believes the Canucks can be turned around in a hurry.
Last season, Vancouver fell to 82 points and missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season, which was Linden’s last in the NHL.
“Our core players are high-character people. For whatever reason, things didn’t go well last year,” Benning said on Friday. “But I think we’ll be able to turn it around this next year.”
The Canucks won two straight Presidents’ Trophies in 2011 and 2012, and made the Cup Final in their first year as the league’s regular season champions. In 2012 and 2013, they combined for a 1-8 playoff record and were most recently swept out of the first round by the San Jose Sharks, in 2013.
The team’s core of stars is aging into and beyond their mid-30’s, starting with Daniel and Henrik Sedin and moving down to Ryan Kesler and defenceman Kevin Bieksa, as well as winger Alex Burrows.
*Watch the full Q&A with Jim Benning and Trevor Linden from Friday morning…