Vancouver's new GM will have to revive a team that had a rough 2013-14 season. (Bob Frid/Icon SMI)
By Allan Muir
Three years ago, Jim Benning helped sew the seeds that led to the destruction of the Vancouver Canucks.
Now he's coming in to clean up the mess.
According to a report from TSN's Darren Dreger, the Canucks will name the Bruins' assistant GM to their top hockey post later this week. If it plays out as Dreger suggests, it would be a homecoming for Benning. The undersized defenseman patrolled Vancouver's blueline for 241 games from 1986 to 1990.
Benning's 20-year track record in management shows consistent advancement with obvious success at each stop, including his current post as the top lieutenant for one of hockey's top organizations. He has served under Peter Chiarelli in Boston since 2007, where his keen eye for evaluating pro talent helped lay the foundation that culminated in the 2011 Stanley Cup championship. Prior to that, he served as the Director of Amateur Scouting for Buffalo, where he showed a knack for finding value after the first round (Ryan Miller, Derek Roy, Jason Pominville) but struggled to land the big fish with his top pick (Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford being the obvious exceptions).
That's a problem that Canucks fans are all too familiar with, but there's always a risk to hiring first time GMs. Until you see them in action, you never really know what they're capable of once they have the keys in their hands. Still, Benning's name has long been involved in job rumors for good reason. Chiarelli is known for surrounding himself with good people--another assistant, Don Sweeney, is said to be up for the same job in Washington--and Benning has paid his dues. He's earned this shot.
Dreger mentioned Barry Trotz as a possible coaching hire under Benning, but keep an eye on Boston assistant Doug Houda.