Late Sunday evening, the Vancouver Canucks released a statement that they have fired Jim Benning, Travis Green, John Weisbrod, and Nolan Baumgartner. A collective sigh of relief could be felt around British Columbia. Fans have been calling for the jobs of Benning and Green for over a year. After coming off an off-season, Jim Benning shed some unfavorable contracts in a deal with the Arizona Coyotes while acquiring Oliver Ekman-Larson and Conor Garland. Hopes were high with such a move, and the young Vancouver Canucks team had some new expectations, playoff success.
Unfortunately, this season did not go as planned. Vancouver has mustered a record of 8-15-2 and is last in the Pacific Division. Along with the additions of Garland and OEL from Arizona, Vancouver relied on solid seasons from Elias Petterson and Quinn Hughes. For me, one of the main factors in the Arizona trade was the lack of leadership and experience left in the wake. Relying too heavily on the young stars is a risky gamble that hasn’t worked for the Canucks this season. Petterson has not looked himself this season, tallying four goals and eight assists in twenty-five games played. Lackluster play had already landed Petterson into some trade rumors before the Benning dismissal, and it will be interesting to see how the changes within the organization will ripple through the lineup.
Vancouver also announced today that they had signed Bruce Boudreau to a two-year deal to be the next coach of the Vancouver Canucks. Boudreau is known to work well with offensive players, which Vancouver definitely has a plethora of. Meanwhile, Stan Smyl takes over as interim general manager. Hiring Boudreau to a two-year contract conveys that Vancouver is still looking to compete and make the playoffs. While this roster doesn’t scream for a rebuild, I believe the Canucks could go with a re-tool on the fly.
One position that still remains a mystery is the general manager. Vancouver is not in a rush to fill the role, and the sense within the organization says that they will likely hire a President/General Manager candidate or two to split the role. The names already connected to the vacancy are Marc Bergevin, the Sedin twins, and Jimmy Rutherford. While Marc Bergevin might be the most qualified immediate answer, I believe the Canucks need to go in a different direction. Combining Jimmy Rutherford and the Sedin twins could make a successful long-term future for the Canucks. While Rutherford has a plethora of experience in the GM column, he would be the perfect mentor for the organization’s future leaders, Henrik and Daniel Sedin. While the Sedins do not have the experience in an NHL front office, they know this organization and its fan base. Right now, Vancouver needs to keep their fanbase in the front of their minds. Not in the regard of making a decision solely for the fans. However, they are the people paying the ticket costs. Fans in Vancouver should feel relieved after the last decade they have experienced. The future of this team is bright with plenty of young talent, and bringing in the proper management pieces could be the missing link to turning the Canucks back into the organization they were before 2010-2011.