Do you feel it? That sense of hope that was lost along the way this last season that is once again surrounding the Vancouver Canucks? I’m not saying that things will immediately be amazing BUT with the news of GM Benning becoming official that black cloud that has followed the team all year has been lifted ever so slightly.
In his official first day as GM, Benning was asked MANY questions on how he would improve the team (he answered them) BUT first he noted his excitement to be back with the team: “My family and I are very excited to come back to Vancouver.” Welcome back Jim, we’re happy to have you here!
On his thoughts about this team and if he likes them, we were not left in the dark long as was quick to state: “I like this team. I like the core players. This is a team we can turn around in a hurry.” Now perhaps that surprises some people that he would imply maintaining the core…but it shouldn’t. Benning does not want to completely dismantle this team but rather build it back up and bring depth back to support the core. Wouldn’t that be something?
So what about that pesky term “Boston Model”…what does it mean? Even Benning was confused on that notion, simply stating: “I don’t know what the ‘Boston Model’ is to be honest with you. Our goal in Boston was simply to make the playoffs ever year and roll four lines.” Basically the goal here in Vancouver should be the same…for the team to be a four line team that will play their best in every game all year while focusing on extending their season beyond April.
Will we see some confidence be brought back to the players on ice game? According to Mr.President that will be a priority: “Our priority will be to bring confidence and fun back in to the on-ice product and game.” – Linden
Do the new GM and Mr. President see eye to eye on the organization? “Trevor and I share the same values on players and team building.” Sounds like a match made to work together harmoniously on a level that the players will respect moving forward.
Benning re-iterated that he likes the team’s core: “I feel they are high character people. I believe in our core players, we’re going to try and help them out by adding more depth, playing four lines.” BUT made sure to make very clear that he will not be afraid to ask make that bold move if it helps the team: “We won’t be afraid to approach players and ask them to waive their no-trade clauses IF it’s the right decision for the team.” Linden and Benning are not going to make a trade or move a player just because it is speculated by the media BUT rather IF and ONLY IF it is the right decision for the team. Sounds like a refreshing concept, no?
Also on that note…he was asked for his thoughts on Ryan Kesler as everyone and their dog seems to suggest he should be traded or wants to be traded. Benning had this to say about Kesler: “He’s a warrior, he’s a big body guy, and good skater. We’ll sit down with him, see what his thoughts are and go from there. I love the way Kesler plays. He plays hard, he plays the way you win. If it’s up to me we KEEP him.” (Spoiler alert: Multiple times, Kesler, himself has already said he DOES NOT want to be traded!).
The aim that Benning would like to see become reality is to be able to roll four-lines next season: “We want to become a four-line team. We have some work to do. We want to be a complete team.” The ability to have four lines makes that team a contender on any given night and makes a massive difference come playoff time when every line can step up in any situation.
What about the head coach conundrum? What are Linden and Benning looking for in the newest Canucks HC? According to Benning they have a list and the interview process will begin stat! – “We’ve compiled a list of names and will probably start the interview process next week. We want a coach who has won and had success at all different levels.” **note that Barry Trotz is no longer on this list as he has officially been named the Head Coach of the Washington Capitals.
How does he feel about the current Canucks prospects? He named one Bo Horvat specifically: “I really like Bo Horvat, I think he’s going to be an important player here going forward.” He did note that he will be working with the Canucks scouting staff (he does have a lot of pro-scouting expertise after all!) helping to strengthen the scouting team in their search for prospects that will add depth to the organization at all levels.
Long story short, Benning simply said this: “We’re going to work hard to get this thing back in the right direction.” It will not be an easy task and they DO have a lot work in front of them BUT it does give one a sense of hope that things are beginning to look not so dark on the Canucks horizon.
What did the first 48 hours as the Vancouver Canucks GM look like? Something like this:
Jim Benning has a BIG task in his hands but something tells me he is more than up for this challenge. Are ready for what comes next Canucks fans? Can you feel the hope that is beginning to sneak it’s way back into the Canucks?
***The countdown is ON: 125 days until the leaves change and October arrives bringing with with it a new NHL season.
As always, until next time, nuck said.