Opposing opinions have spewed all over social media this week in the wake of the Vancouver Canucks holding a media conference with president Trevor Linden and general manager Jim Benning to announce that the latter’s contract will be extended for three years.
It’s the most divisive issue to hit Vancouver Canucks fans since the Luongo-Schneider debacle, and while we’ll have some more reactions to it once the news fully sets in, the press conference itself was full of noteworthy items.
5. The mood was, um, kinda dark
The disposition of both men was in stark contrast to a similar conference the two held four years ago shortly after Benning was hired. Then, they were fresh-faced, positive and cheerful.
This time? Not so much.
Linden was constantly playing with some sort of piece of paper and generally looking like he had just lost a dear family friend. Benning, meanwhile, looked lost. It’s obvious that the indecisiveness that led to the curious timing of the extension (why did it take so long to make this decision?) weighed on the GM. He knows there are doubts, and he must think they have some grounding in reality.
4. The Canucks think their prospect group is exceptional
Asked point blank about this, Benning said yes. He had no other choice, really, because his drafting and scouting abilities are the only real reason he got the extension.
Is their group “exceptional” though? It may be. Thatcher Demko and Elias Pettersson, in particular, look like the real deal. A few more hits in a highly regarded group that includes Kole Lind and Adam Gaudette would be most welcome as well, not to mention Olli Juolevi.
But is it anything out of the ordinary for a team that’s finished in the bottom five of the league for what will be three years in a row to have a strong group of prospects? It is not. No, they haven’t picked in the top three, which has to be considered just plain unlucky, but every team has many prospects that they ostensibly “like”. We’ll find out soon (well, in the next couple of years) if the Canucks’ bevy of youngsters will save Benning.
3. And apparently, Guillaume Brisebois is part of that
Asked about the organization’s defensive depth, Benning talked about Brisebois at length. It was a little strange, given how he hasn’t exactly excelled in Utica, registering nine points in 47 games. It must be said that he’s the youngest player on the team, and his junior numbers are strong, but he’s not considered a can’t-miss prospect by any means.
2. Benning was quick to blame injuries for this season
Injuries happen, Jim. They are a part of hockey. Yes, the team was looking competent before Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi and Brandon Sutter went down, but every team loses guys to injury. The fact is that the Canucks haven’t been able to capture their early season form even when healthy.
Blaming injuries for your failure as a team will not get you very far in this town and if this isn’t the last time he uses them as an excuse, Benning is as good as gone.
1. There is no timeline for making the playoffs
Although Linden did say that the team is in a better spot now than it was two or three years ago.
At that introductory presser, Benning said the team was four or five years away from competing with the elite teams.
So, like, now. Except now there’s no timeline. Dang.
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