There is a lot of questions and uncertainty heading into the offseason for the Vancouver Canucks.
And there’s no doubt that it is going to be a very busy one for general manager Jim Benning, heading into his eighth year at the helm.
Benning joined Don Taylor and Rick Dhaliwal, former TSN employees and now co-hosts of Donnie and Dhali – The Team on Chek TV, early Friday morning to talk about the team heading into the offseason.
Here are some takeaways from Benning’s interview:
The future of Ian Clark
As we all know, Clark’s contract wrapped up at the end of this season, and he is set to be a free agent very soon. Clark’s resume speaks for itself, as he developed Jacob Markstrom into an elite goalie over the past few years, and is now helping transform Thatcher Demko into the team’s number one netminder. Clark has had a massive impact on both goaltenders, so much so that the latter even publicly pleaded with the organization to bring Clark back.
Fortunately, Benning was able to deliver some good news on Clark.
“We’re going to get something worked out there,” said Benning. “He is an important guy in our group and like I’ve said before, he’s good at what he does. We’ll get that figured out.”
Of course, nothing is guaranteed yet, especially given this team’s recent track record, but hopefully they can get something done ASAP.
Does Nate Schmidt want out?
Over the past few days, Nate Schmidt has been the subject of trade rumours on Twitter, with some people insinuating that the defenceman wants out of Vancouver after the disastrous season.
Taylor and Dhaliwal inquired about this rumour, but Benning was straightforward with his answer.
“I talked to Nate, he doesn’t know where that came from,” said Benning. “He was real positive in his exit interview and it’s not true and he doesn’t want out of Vancouver so I don’t know where that started.”
Schmidt isn’t the first player to be part of trade rumours this offseason. Last week, forward J.T. Miller was also rumoured to want out of Vancouver, but that was fortunately put to bed by hockey insider Elliotte Friedman during the “Headlines” segment on Hockey Night in Canada last Saturday.
In other words, both rumours have been debunked.
Will the Sedins still be joining the organization?
Nothing much has happened since then, but Benning was able to give an update on the Sedins.
“We’re still talking to them and trying to figure out what that’s going to look like from an organizational point of view.” said Benning. “They’re world-class people, they’re smart hockey guys, They want to do work that is going to make the organization get better. That’s working with our young players and going out to Abbotsford watching our young players play and helping them develop. They’ll help our hockey ops group, team building and they want to learn the business. They’ll be in our pro scouting meetings. They’re going to be doing the work and help us get better. They don’t want to be guys that just have desk jobs.”
Benning also went on to say that he expects an announcement on the Sedins within the next few weeks.
Addressing fan frustration, banners and protests
Canucks fans are not happy that Benning is returning for the eighth year.
Many are frustrated with how the team has been run for the last seven years, specifically pointing towards the organization’s lack of direction. Some fans have cancelled their season tickets, while a handful of passionate individuals also organized #FireBenning banners and protested outside Rogers Arena to showcase their disappointment.
Benning was asked about those events on Friday, openly saying that they were personally tough.
“It’s harder on my family,” he said. “I’ve got a teenage daughter and you drag your families into these types of situations. It’s for sure harder on my family. I’m busy doing the work, I’ve got to move forward, but I’m not going to lie, it’s hard on the family.”
He also had a message for the fans.
“We didn’t have a good year this year,” Benning said. “We have a lot of good young core pieces in place, and we’re going to hit the ground running next year. We want to be a playoff team, we want to take the next step and get that playoff experience and keep moving forward. Our goal here is still to win the Cup and you’ve got to get that playoff experience and go through those trials and tribulations before you can get there. That’s what we’re working towards and that’s what I believe we can achieve.”
You can watch the full interview here.
What are your thoughts on Benning’s most recent radio interview? Let us know in the comments!