After Sunday’s extremely lackluster performance — a 3-0 road loss to the Vegas Golden Knights — the Vancouver Canucks’ playoff hopes are virtually done for. Would another terrible finish cost GM Jim Benning his job?
If the Vancouver Canucks had any hope left of making the playoffs this season, they essentially came to an end on Sunday — following a 3-0 road loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.
With that, the Canucks are going to miss the postseason for the fourth straight year now. Only twice in their history have the Canucks accomplished that feat — 1970-71 to 1973-74 and 1996-97 to 1999-2000.
After spending over a decade as a force in the Western Conference, Vancouver is set to miss the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons now. You can’t help but wonder know if general manager Jim Benning — who signed a multi-year extension last year — is in danger of losing his job after this season.
Following Sunday’s loss, Rick Dhaliwal of Sportsnet 650 sent out a poll to see if fans have faith in management’s ability to fix this team. As of Sunday evening, the results were not pretty for Benning and co.
Missing the playoffs three or more seasons in a row is usually enough for an NHL GM to be let go, but it was only a year ago where the Canucks gave Benning an extension. That was an indicator that this team has faith in his vision.
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But a few months after Benning received a new contract, team president Trevor Linden left the organization. TSN’s Farhan Lalji reported that it was believed to be over a disagreement with ownership on the direction of the team.
So with Linden got, could the Aquilinis decide to overhaul the rest of the management staff by parting ways with Benning? They’ve seemingly been supportive of his gradual rebuilding plan, but a fourth straight non-playoff year might reach a breaking point.
Benning has made plenty of great moves as GM of the Canucks, but also plenty of questionable ones.
He drafted stars in Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson, and the Josh Leivo trade looks like a huge win. Other than that, he’s missed on plenty of his draft picks, and the Loui Eriksson free agent signing has been a massive flop.
There are definitely plenty of supporters on both sides: Those who want Benning to stay and continue the rebuilding project, and those who think it’s long overdue for the Canucks to replace him.
You can make a strong case that Benning has had plenty of success here on the west coast, but at the end of the day, this is a team headed for a fourth consecutive non-playoff season. The results speak for themselves, plain and simple.
It’s hard to envision head coach Travis Green losing his job after just two years. He’s gotten excellent production out of his young players, and it doesn’t make sense to give up on a coach this early into a rebuild.
But it’s reasonable to think that Benning’s job is greatly in jeopardy. The Canucks have shown that they’re still a while away from being a serious playoff contender, and if patience from ownership has run out, the Canucks could be looking for a new general manager this offseason.