Canucks News: A Look At Jim Benning

GENERAL MANAGER SEARCH

It is widely believed that Bruins' assistant General Manager Jim Benning is the front-runner for the Canucks' vacant GM job. Trevor Linden met with Benning a few days ago according to TSN's Darren Dreger:

Read into that what you want. It appears to be imminent in my opinion.

The Province's Jason Botchford wrote a "what-if" piece about Benning joining the Canucks or the Capitals...and which team would be more appealing.

But I have read elsewhere that the Capitals are out of the running for Benning's services after canning their uber-long-time GM George McPhee.

The lack of an announcement of a new GM reeks of the Canucks waiting for the Bruins' playoff run to end before the announcement. But let's just call that speculation on my part.

ABOUT BENNING

Benning was drafted 6th overall by the Leafs in the 1981 Draft. The defenceman was traded to the Canucks for Rick Lanz in the December of 1986. But his career with the Canucks was terribly rocky, as a poster at HF Boards points out (using old school quoted journalism):

For a hockey team that fancies itself as fair and enlightened, the Vancouver Canucks have a funny way of showing it.

Take the bizarre case of defenceman Jim Benning, who figured to have played his final game for the Canucks after he was dropped from the team and made an outcast last week.

Benning, who wasn't being used by the Canucks, was asked to take a two-week demotion to Milwaukee for conditioning purposes - a move, after considerable soul-searching and personal anguish, he refused.

Rather than settling the situation privately, the Canucks made an unnecessary and publicized display by telling Benning to stay away from practice. Thus, the Canucks not only slighted a loyal employee who has given fair and reliable service, but also diminished whatever trade value Benning might have had. It was neither good public relations nor good business.

Then, abruptly, Benning, 26, was asked to return to practice last Saturday and by Tuesday had worked his way back into the starting lineup when an injury to Harold Snepsts created an opening.

In a return worthy of Rocky, Benning, in his first appearance in 12 games, had three assists as the Canucks played to a 7-7 overtime tie with the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday night. In one evening, Benning compiled more points than teammate Larry Melnyk has managed in 65 games. He was a plus-one on the night and is now tied with the injured Brian Bradley for the team lead (plus-four).

Benning, Bradley and Rich Sutter are the only Canucks on the plus side this season, but the plus/minus statistic is one that coach Bob McCammon claims is "abused by the media."


Of course, coaches also abuse it too. Three seasons ago, when McCammon came to Vancouver, he dismissed Doug Lidster's 63-point season the previous year - a club single-season record for defencemen - by pointing to Lidster's horrible plus/minus.

The past week has been one of the most difficult in every respect for Benning, a first-round pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1981 who three times was voted the Leafs' best defenceman. In his first season under McCammon, 1987-88, Benning had seven goals and 26 assists in 77 games and was selected the Canucks' best defenceman in a vote by the same know-nothing media.

NOW, after nine seasons as a pro and more than 600 games played, the 185-pound Benning has read and listened to reports over the past week that the Canucks don't consider him big enough or strong enough to handle big forwards crashing around the net. Yet he stood defiantly in the battle zone in the third period against the Flyers, fencing with hulking Tim Kerr and getting clobbered over the helmet for his efforts.

Benning says it has been difficult hearing that he's not good enough to play for a 20th-place team anymore, but he doesn't apologize for his size and even defends management's right to change its mind.

"I've always tried to play a smart game and I've always felt I was a good enough skater to get the job done," Benning says. "The part about me not being physical enough never seemed to be a big issue before. But it's their team. They're the ones who make the decisions. If they decide they want a certain kind of player on this team, that's their choice."

It gets better. No it doesn't.

But the past is the past. I'm just giving you peeps a little history lesson.

After his playing career was over, Benning :

served an amateur scout for the Anaheim Ducks (1993–94) and then joined the Buffalo Sabres as a scout (1994–98) and as Director of Amateur Scouting (1998–2004).

Under his watch, the Sabres significantly drafted:

-Dimitri Kalinin (1998)

-Andrew Peters (1998)

-Ales Kotalik (1998)

-Ryan Miller (1999)

-Paul Gaustad (2000)

-Derek Roy (2001)

-Jason Pominville (2001)

-Keith Ballard (2002)

-Daniel Paille (2002)

-Dennis Wideman (2002)

-Thomas Vanek (2003)

-Clarke MacArthur (2003)

-Jan Hejda (2003)

-Drew Stafford and Andrew Sekera and Mark Macari might be on his watch as well but I am not sure.

In 2006 he became the assistant GM of the Bruins. A position he as held until now. Under his tenure the Bruins have drafted Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Joe Colbourne, Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.

Notable trades in his tenure as Bruins' assistant GM:

-traded Andrew Raycroft to the Leafs in exchange for the rights to Tuukka Rask.

-traded up in the 2006 Entry Draft to get Brad Marchand

-Acquired Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew from the Flames in exchange for Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart and a draft pick (2007)

-Acquired Adam McQuaid for 2007 pick (Jamie Benn)

-Acquired Johnny Boychuk from Colorado in exchange for Matt Hendricks (2008)

-Acquired Mark Recchi from Tampa for a couple of bums (2009)

-Traded Phil Kessel to the Leafs in exchange for 3 top draft picks. 2 that are of current significance: Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton

-In March of 2010 the Bruins traded Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and a 2nd round pick to Florida for Dennis Seidenberg and rights to Matt Bartkowski

-In June of 2010 the Bruins trade Denis Wideman plus a 1st and 3rd round pick to the Panthers for Gregory Campbell and Nathan Horton. Nice. Panthers shit the bed on those picks, by the way.

-February 2011 Bruins acquire Chris Kelly from the Senators for a 2nd round pick.

-That same month they traded Mark Suart and Blae Wheeler to the Thrashers for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik.

-Also in February of 2011 the Bruins traded Joe Colbourne and 2 high picks to the Leafs for Tomas Kaberle.

They soon won the Stanley Cup. Since then? Here ya go. The Bruins remain a top team in the NHL. Benning is a part of that. Peter Schiarelli isn't god. He has Benning to help him out as an assistant.

It is time for Benning to take the helm of a team.

Is he YOUR choice? Voice your opinion in the comments section.

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