Jim Benning made it official on Friday as he took over as the 11th general manager of the Vancouver Canucks. He talked a little bit about his past with the Bruins and future with the Canucks in his first few moments running the franchise.
Benning spent the past seven seasons as the assistant general manager in Boston under Peter Chiarelli and landed the job after also being considered for the Buffalo Sabres GM post earlier this season. Clearly, some of the game plan for Benning in Vancouver is similar to what the Bruins front office built in Boston. Still, he said there was no “Boston model” that he planned to follow for building a franchise.
It’s a conversation that’s taken place in Vancouver the past few days with fans and media wondering if the Canucks will all of the sudden become the Big Bad Canucks with an ex-Bruins executive making the roster decisions.
“We want to be a four-line team. These final four teams [in the playoffs] have four lines that chip in, and contribute to the winning of the team,” said Benning. “As far as the ‘Boston model’ is concerned, I don’t really even know what the ‘Boston model’ is to be honest with you. We just tried to make the playoffs every year, and then we integrated the young players into the mix. Our team over time learned how to win, and our young players learned how to win. Now they have an opportunity to win every single year, and that’s what we want to build around here.”
Chiarelli, Benning and Don Sweeney saw David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Johnny Boychuk and Tuukka Rask among others grow and develop under their watch in Boston. That’s a key part of the draft-and-develop strategy with any hockey team. With players such as Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler already on the Vancouver roster, Benning hinted that it might be a more rapid ascension back to a competitive level for the Canucks.
“It’s a passionate fan base. The team and the fans really want to win here. I like the team. I like the core players. I just met the Sedins down in the locker room, and they’re great players and excellent people,” said Benning. “I think this is a team we can turn around in a hurry. We want to build a team with the right types of players that has a chance to win every single year.”
With Benning now officially a part of the Canucks, the Bruins are short one of their brightest talent evaluators with the NHL draft a little more than a month away in Philadelphia.