Jim Benning has earned a reputation as one of the most open and candid general managers in the NHL.
That may not hold true much longer.
The GM of the Canucks might have said too much on Thursday when he told a Vancouver radio station that he had made a call about Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban was interested in pending free agent Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Since both players are currently under contract with other teams, that could be considered tampering. And the league has apparently taken notice.
It seems fairly harmless on the surface. After all, he wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't follow up on rumors that the Norris Trophy-winning Subban was on the market, or didn't at least inquire about what it might take to land a coveted UFA like Stamkos or Milan Lucic of the Kings.
But there's a difference between doing your job and detailing your job for public consumption...at least when it involves specific discussions about contracted players.
The league frowns on this sort of thing, and has a history of holding team employees accountable for similar comments. In 2009, the Toronto Maple Leafs were fined an undisclosed amount for violating the provisions of NHL By-Law 15 when then-head coach Ron Wilson told an interviewer prior to July 1 that there was “a real possibility" the team would pursue Daniel and Henrik Sedin in free agency.
"The Maple Leafs have been advised that the League likely would impose discipline for any future inappropriate conduct on their part that may cause, or may reasonably be perceived to cause, damage to the Canucks' franchise, or its relationship with its existing players and/or employees," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said at the time.
Benning also expressed interest in pending free agent Milan Lucic, but the Kings reportedly gave full permission to the league's other 29 teams to talk to the big power forward.