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Benning and Desjardins Meet the Media

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Watch as management answers questions from the rabble.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Watch it now live. I'll post some comments and the video when it's over.

Overall, there wasn't much breaking news from this media conference. Jim Benning has mastered the essential GM art of saying nothing. I lost count of the number of times he repeated lines like "We're meeting with our coaches and pro scouts next week. We haven't made any decisions yet." or "We'll pursue anything we can to make this team better."

In the back of my mind while I watched this was a recent podcast, The Hockey PDOCast where they discussed Jim Benning and the Canucks. Dimitri Filipovic and Thomas Drance mentioned some people's hypercritical assessment of Benning's public communications. In fact, every Canucks GM, from Brian Burke to Mike Gillis was eventually criticized for their public statements. At some point it's fair to ask whether the problem is management or some fans and media in the market.

Rather than rebuild or retool, Benning seemed focused on the word transition -- they are attempting to build the new core that will compete after the Sedins have retired. He referenced the years when Trevor Linden was traded back to the Canucks, and players like Ryan Kesler, Alex Edler, Henrik and Daniel were on their way to becoming a new core. That's what he is trying to do now.

He moved away from his earlier statements about drafting a defenseman in the first round, since it seems possible the Canucks will have a top three pick. If they draft in the top three, Benning said the Canucks will get a top line player. He is also hoping to add college free agents, and the Canucks have been linked to names like Drake Caggiula and Troy Stecher.

Members of the management team met with both Brock Boeser and Thatcher Demko's parents at the Frozen Four in Tampa. They did not meet with the players there because they didn't want to take the player's focus away from the championships. Benning remains hopeful Thatcher Demko will be signed in the next couple weeks.

Asked about Ryan Miller, Benning said Miller will be part of the group next year. A team called to inquire about trading for Miller, but Benning rebuffed the inquiry. I'm not sure if that's what he was referring to last summer at the draft when he said he could have traded Miller, but chose to trade Eddie Lack instead.

Rollie Melanson wants to be closer to home in Montreal. Benning said the team is currently discussing ways to accommodate that desire, perhaps making him a goaltending consultant instead of goalie coach.

He was asked about selling Demko on coming to Vancouver if Jacob Markstrom was a clear number one goalie, just entering his prime. Benning said "goalies develop in dog years, almost", so he's not worried.

Free agents will have to be in the 22-28 age range to fit in with the rest of the group. That would seem to rule out Loui Eriksson. Benning has identified a defender who can help the power play and a scoring winger as pieces he wants to add. But, he made it clear as he has repeatedly lately, the draft is where they'll add the most important pieces, not free agency.

And he put an end to speculation about Andrey Pedan's future role. Benning unequivocally said he sees Pedan as a defenseman.

Willie Desjardins didn't speak much. Of note, though, he said he appreciated the vote of confidence from Trevor Linden. But he also recognizes how things might have changed. Willie vows to be better next year. He also singled out Bo Horvat for lavish praise, because Bo continued to bring it right through the end of the season.

Coming out of the presser, the narrative on Canucks Twitter seems to be that fans should be confused at the messaging from management. I'm not, and I don't see why, really, others should be.

After the main remarks from the podium, Trevor Linden spoke from the back of the room. It wasn't live streamed, but among his comments were:

Wow, Iain MacIntyre is fast. His press conference write up is already on the Vancouver Sun Web site.

And that is that. The regular season is over. Stay tuned for college free agency, the draft and July 1. And stick with Nucks Misconduct throughout the playoffs for open threads and for a series of Vancouver Canucks player autopsies.

Also, one final plug from me for the NHL.com bracket contest. We have a Nucks Misconduct group if you want to try your hand at picking NHL playoff winners. Go to http://bracketchallenge.nhl.com/, search among leagues for one called Nucks Misconduct and enter the password Bracket0l0gy

Or send me an email at thospratt@gmail.com and I can send you an invitation.