Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning might be on the hot seat as the team finishes up another non-playoff season, and ownership will have a very difficult decision to make this summer.
While the Vancouver Canucks were being pummeled by the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night, countless fans took to Twitter and voiced their displeasure in a way I’ve never seen before.
The Canucks allowed five first period goals, en route to a 6-2 home loss. That prompted many fans to take their frustrations out on general manager Jim Benning. Disgruntled Canuck supporters began tweeting out #FireBenning, which wound up being one of the top trends in all of Canada on Saturday.
This team is about to miss the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year now, and as Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province points out, the Canucks need five or six more impact players “before they can be taken seriously.”
Last week, I examined why Benning’s job could be in jeopardy now. On one hand, he went off the board and took Elias Pettersson with the fifth selection in 2017. He landed a star sniper in Brock Boeser with the 23rd selection in 2015. And of course, the Thatcher Demko and Quinn Hughes selections leave plenty of reason for optimism as well.
But those who tweeted out #FireBenning would be quick to note some of his questionable trades (the Jared McCann–Erik Gudbranson deal), and poor track record in free agency (Loui Eriksson and Jay Beagle, among others).
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
So when the season ends, which way will ownership look? Will they look at the man who’s hit the bulk of his first-round selections? There’s no doubting Benning has done a far better job drafting than predecessor Mike Gillis.
Or will ownership look at a team that will have missed the postseason for four straight years, with the rebuild clearly a few years away from completion? There are two ways you can look at it, but ultimately, the Aquilinis’ opinions will be the only ones that matter.
Yes, it’s been another dismal season in Vancouver. But there have been plenty of injuries as usual, and Benning knows he has to upgrade the blue line. A full season of Hughes will help in 2019-20, and Pettersson figures to only get better in his sophomore year.
But, the naysayers will look at a team that’s about to finish at the bottom of the standings for the fifth time in six years. They’ll point out how painfully slow the rebuild is — along with Benning’s not-so-great trading and free agency history.
It’s a tale of two Jim Bennings, if you will.
In my opinion, Benning deserves at least one more season. Give him the chance to rebuild the defence and see if he can find another impact player in the first round.
But again, it’s all up to ownership to decide if they think Benning deserves more time in rebuilding the Canucks — all while trying to deal with countless disgruntled and rightfully impatient fans.