Canucks: Benning, Aquilini to meet today after feeling “state of shock” in organization

The Vancouver Canucks are in full panic mode these days, and it looks like the front office has finally taken notice.

Early Tuesday morning, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman took to Twitter, sharing that Canucks’ owner Francesco Aquilini and General Manager Jim Benning are expected to meet privately later this afternoon to discuss the current situation surrounding the team.

Friedman’s report came 24 hours after former TSN host Matt Sekeres shared his own findings about high-level meetings within the organization, which started on Monday.

As expected, fans immediately shared their own thoughts in response to both reports, passionately stating where they think the blame should ultimately fall for how this season has started.

And the results are definitely mixed.

A handful of fans are putting the responsibility on the players for not performing nearly as well as they should be, given not only their glorified status as professional athletes, but also the hefty contracts that come with the job.

The Canucks have been on an escalating downward spiral this past week, coming off a three-game road trip in which the team collected zero out of a possible six points, while also being outscored 19-6 in the process.

And, quite frankly, it was embarrassing to watch.

Outside of Nils Höglander and the tandem of Thatcher Demko and Jaroslav Halak, no other player was able to rise to their expectations on their recent road trip in order to help their team scrape out of this tumultuous rut.

In particular, fans are starting to raise legitimate concerns about Elias Pettersson.

The former Calder Trophy winner, whose recent three-year, $22.05 million contract made him the highest-paid forward on the team, has only amassed nine points in 16 games. Five of those points have come on the man advantage, but the young Swede is still searching for his first even strength goal of the year.

The team currently sits seventh in the Pacific Division, 10 points behind the first place Edmonton Oilers and only three points ahead of the Seattle Kraken, while also falling to 27th overall in the league in the process.

Their once-potent powerplay ranks 24th, firing at a measly rate of 15.3%, and their penalty kill is on track to become the worst in NHL history at 62.3%.

In addition to the special teams struggle, the team has also been a tire fire in the first period, surrendering the opening goal in 12 of their 16 games so far. As a result, Vancouver has been trailing for majority of their time on the ice, only ahead of the lowly Arizona Coyotes.

Of course, the onus can’t land just on the players’ shoulders.

Others are rightfully hoping for matters to be dealt with beyond the locker room, either with Travis Green and his coaching staff, or Benning and his managerial squad.

Unfortunately, Friedman’s news just added more fuel to the fire regarding the front office.

According to Friedman, Aquilini isn’t expected to make any drastic personnel changes during his meeting on Tuesday. Instead, the owner would like to formally sit down with Benning to figure out why their team has hit rock bottom so quickly in the season, and how they can maneuver their way out of this utter “state of shock” that has surrounded the organization so unexpectedly.

The 2021-22 season marked Benning’s eighth year as General Manager of the Canucks, while Green is entering his fifth season as head coach.

Since 2014-15, Benning’s first year with the organization, the Canucks have only qualified for the playoffs twice. During his tenure, Benning was unable to re-sign key pieces like Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev and Troy Stecher, but did take risky contract gambles on players such as Jake Virtanen and Tanner Pearson.

Green, on the other hand, holds a losing record of 130-141-34 with the club since 2017-18.

Regardless of who you think should be punished for the team’s truly inexcusable outings as of late, there’s no doubt that something needs to change moving forward, and it needs to happen fast.

The Canucks will be kicking off an extremely important, high-magnitude three-game homestand against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night, and will be looking to seek revenge against the squad that handed them their 7-1 beatdown last week that kickstarted their recent downfall.

And as we all know, the crowd at Rogers Arena won’t be afraid to voice their frustration if things continue to blow up on the ice.

Puck drop is set for 6:00pm PST.

What are your thoughts on how the front office is currently handling the situation? Make sure to drop a comment below!