With an appealing lack of flash and an aura of all-round regular-dudeness, Jim Benning held his first meeting with local media as general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, today at Rogers Arena.
Benning’s hiring as the 11th GM in club history was announced on Wednesday.
Seated next to Trevor Linden, who seemed assured about his first major move as hockey-operations president, Benning outlined plans for backing out of the ditch that previous GM Mike Gillis and head-coaching blip John Tortorella drove the team into last season.
Benning said he’s focused on building a solid four-line group of forwards based on skating and scoring touch—the identity that brought the Canucks to the Cup final just three years ago. He added that he’d like to make the club’s third and fourth lines larger and grittier, not only to compete with the bruising Californian teams in their division, but to “take the heat off” the more skilled players among the top six forwards.
All of this has the ring of the so-called Boston model, much discussed by local media ever since Linden mentioned his admiration of the Bruins during one of his early interviews in his new role. But Benning himself, who comes to the Canucks after a term as assistant GM in Beantown, remarked that he’d “never heard of the Boston model till I came out here.”
Without question, Benning’s most promising trait is his deep experience in scouting, an area that had begun to panic Canucks fans who’d watched as the team’s once-powerful core seemed to age before their eyes last season.
He’ll be putting that knowledge into effect at the NHL entry draft in Philadelphia five weeks from now, when the Canucks will pick sixth overall.