Bruins' Cam Neely, Peter Chiarelli issue statements after Jim Benning named Canucks' new GM

May 22, 5:54 PM

With former assistant general manager Jim Benning on his way to Vancouver to be named the Canucks' GM Friday, Boston Bruins president Cam Neely and GM Peter Chiarelli issued statements via the team's official website

Chiarelli's comments are particularly noteworthy:

Jim was a valuable member of our organization, whose experience, work ethic and hockey acumen was greatly appreciated in the course of his time here. We wish him the best of luck in his new position. Jim will have no further obligations to the Bruins effective immediately. We will look internally and externally to replace that position.

As such, the Bruins are allowing Benning to leave outright prior to the entry draft in June, a courtesy that Chiarelli was not afforded by the Ottawa Senators in 2006 upon being hired by Boston. 

The current Bruins GM was hired in May of that year, but was not permitted to assume the role until after the draft.

Neely added "Our organization is appreciative of the contributions he made and we wish him and his family the best in their new endeavor in Vancouver."

May 23, 4:41 PM

Jim Benning introduced as Canucks' GM: 'This is a team we can turn around in a hurry'

May 23, 4:41 PM

Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden introduced the team's new general manager to the media Friday, and Jim Benning answered questions in regards to the current state of the team and his philosophy moving forward.

Benning, a former Canucks defenseman, began by saying "[Vancouver] is a great hockey market, the fans are passionate and I'm really happy come to back here." He also came right out and said he likes what he has to work with, despite the disappointing results in 2013-14.

When asked to expand, Benning added the following:

We need to get back to what we're good at. This organization needs to play an up-tempo, fast skating skilled game. Before last season, this team had ... a relentless attitude that they were going to skate and to wear teams down and to score. For whatever reason that didn't happen last year, but I'm hoping that, with Trevor, we hire the right coach for this group and get back to that moving forward.

Furthermore, Benning said his "vision" is that the Canucks will become become a four-line team: "We want our third and fourth lines to have an important role in the team winning ... When the third and fourth line play, (they should) get some offensive zone time and spend some time in the other team's end."

When asked about the so-called "Boston model," Benning said "I never heard of [it] until I came out here, to be honest." He did, however, qualify that by adding "we want to start integrating young players into our lineup; that's what we did in Boston, that's what we'll try to do here." 

Benning was asked about the possibility of trades over the summer, and he said "We won’t be afraid to approach players and ask them to waive their no-trade [clauses]"; he added this with specific reference to Ryan Kesler:

Finally, when asked about the realm of advanced stats in hockey - always a hot topic at these kinds of events - Benning responded with the following: "My feeling is until you can quantify courage and character on the amateur scouting side of it, analytics don't really help with that. On the pro side, they do. Everybody is playing in the same league and you can make comparisons."

Benning concluded the proceedings by saying he and Linden have "compiled a list of names and will probably start the interview process next week" as they seek to fill the vacant head coaching position; he added "We’re going to work hard to get this thing back in the right direction."

With the entry draft coming up at the end of June, Benning will indeed be hitting the road running.

The full press conference can be viewed here.

Feature photo courtesy of Getty/Jeff Vinnick

May 21, 10:32 PM

Canucks president Linden explains decision to hire GM Jim Benning

May 21, 10:32 PM

The Vancouver Canucks made it official on Wednesday night: Jim Benning is the team's new general manager. In a video released by the organization, president Trevor Linden describes the decision to bring Benning on board.

Benning will be formally introduced as the new Canucks general manager at a press conference Friday.

May 21, 11:49 AM

Report: Canucks, Jim Benning agree to multi-year deal

May 21, 11:49 AM

The Vancouver Canucks have agreed to a multi-year deal with Boston Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning, who will be formally introduced as the 11th general manager in franchise history on Friday, according to a report from TSN's Darren Dreger

Though the organization did their due diligence and reportedly interviewed a number of candidates including Nashville's Paul Fenton and former Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson, the Vancouver Canucks only ever had one real candidate in their search for a new general manager. On Wednesday, reportedly, Vancouver locked up their man.

May 20, 10:42 AM

Report: Bruins' Jim Benning expected to be named Canucks GM later this week

May 20, 10:42 AM

Boston Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning should be hired and introduced as the new general manager of the Vancouver Canucks at some point this week, according to a report from TSN's Darren Dreger

Bruins president Cam Neely was asked about Benning's reportedly imminent departure on Tuesday, and gave a coy answer per Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe:

We have given permission for Jim to talk. He’s talked to a couple different teams. That’s what happens when you have success, that other teams look at other organizations that have had success and start inquiring about your management group. It’s something that a lot of good organizations have had to deal with over time and we’re dealing with that right now.

Benning played with Vancouver Canucks president Trevor Linden during his playing days and has close ties to Newport Sports Agency and super agent Don Meehan, who represented Linden during his career. Basically Benning's name surfaced immediately upon the firing of Mike Gillis and the hiring of Linden as president of hockey operations, and Benning has been thought of as the "front runner" for the Canucks job for a month or more. 

Benning worked as the Buffalo Sabres' director of amateur scouting from 1998 to 2004 and the team had enormous success at the draft table during those seasons, especially in later rounds. He's served as the assistant general manager of the Boston Bruins since 2007.

May 18, 9:54 PM

Friedman: 'Sounds like' Canucks interviewed former Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson

May 18, 9:54 PM

Almost immediately after the firing of general manager Mike Gillis and the hiring of Trevor Linden as the organization's new president of hockey operations, the Vancouver Canucks' search for a new general manager has appeared to be laser focused on Boston's Jim Benning.

It turns out that perhaps Benning, who has interviewed twice with the Canucks according to multiple reports, isn't the only guy in serious consideration for Vancouver's vacant general manager position. 

According to a report from CBC's Elliotte Friedman, Edmonton Oilers Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Scott Howson likely interviewed for the Canucks job - although he didn't appear eager to discuss it. From Friedman's indispensable weekly 30 Thoughts column:

Sounds like Edmonton's Scott Howson was in Vancouver for an interview. He didn't respond to a call, email or text seeking comment. That is The Triple Crown of avoidance. 

Howson served as general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets from 2007-2013, and the team never won a playoff game during his tenure. While Howson was widely mocked towards the end of his Columbus tenure, several of his most heavily criticized moves - the Rick Nash trade with New York in particular - have appeared increasingly defensible with the passage of time. 

May 16, 11:29 PM

Report: Benning remains frontrunner for Canucks GM job after 2nd interview

May 16, 11:29 PM

Jim Benning remains Trevor Linden's top choice to become the next general manager of the Vancouver Canucks following a second interview, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.

It is unclear who else is being considered at this point, but it sounds as though they will only become relevant if Benning turns down the opportunity.

May 15, 10:45 AM

Friedman: Bruins could close assistant GM Benning's hiring window shortly

May 15, 10:45 AM

The Vancouver Canucks, who fired Mike Gillis as general manager in early April, have been linked closely to Boston Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning for months. 

Benning played for Vancouver and with Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden during his playing career, and has been widely considered the front-runner to fill the Canucks' general manager vacancy. It's been presumed that the only reason Benning hasn't already assumed the job is that he hasn't really been available to hire. After all, his current employer was engaged in the Stanley Cup playoffs until very recently.

Following Boston's elimination on Wednesday night, Benning is expected to be made available for hire in the coming week. He may not be available for long, however, as CBC's Elliotte Friedman explained on Thursday night in an appearance on the "Scott Rintoul Show":

The one thing I had heard, though I've yet to check it and I was waiting for the right time, is that I believe the Bruins are going to close Jim Benning's window at some point, and I would assume that's going to be very soon. 

They did that with Buffalo - they said "if you want to hire him, you have a certain amount of time, and then we're pulling the chute because we have to move on." I think Boston will do that again with Benning, where they might say "we're closing the window if you don't make the hire by then" and I would assume that would be soon because they've got to make their draft plans. And also because I think we're going to hear another of Boston's employees, Don Sweeney, come up in conversation and I don't think the Bruins will want to lose two guys.

May 8, 5:26 PM

Dreger: Canucks met with Bruins' Jim Benning about vacant GM position

May 8, 5:26 PM

The Vancouver Canucks appear to be one step closer to filling their vacant general manager position.

Dreger added team president Trevor Linden "is simply waiting until the conclusion of round 2 to make it official."

Benning has served as the Bruins assistant general manager since 2006; prior to that, he worked as a scout for the Anaheim Ducks and Buffalo Sabres before a six-year run as Buffalo's director of amateur scouting beginning in 1998.

May 7, 6:15 PM

Report: Canucks receive permission to talk to Bruins' Jim Benning

May 7, 6:15 PM

Longtime Boston Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning has been given permission to talk to the Vancouver Canucks, according to a report from CBC's Elliotte Friedman

From this week's 30 Thoughts:

Trevor Linden is ready to begin his GM interview process, with Boston's Jim Benning widely considered to be the front-runner. Neither he nor the Bruins would confirm, but sources say the Canucks have permission to talk to him. Linden has said current assistant Laurence Gilman is a contender, and it's believed that Philadelphia's Ron Hextall and Nashville's Paul Fenton will be interviewed too. (Sounds like there are more, but the info is dicey, so no guesswork.) There will be some crossover between Vancouver's candidates and Washington's.

Linden and Benning were former Canucks teammates, and the current Bruins executive and former Sabres chief scout briefly worked for Newport Sports, an agency led by Linden's former agent Don Meehan

While the Canucks apparently have permission to talk to Benning, it's possible that getting permission to actually install him as general manager might be an altogether more difficult task. Writes the Vancouver Province's Jason Botchford:

This has been a rather delicate issue for Linden to navigate, which the president hinted at a week ago after officially firing Tortorella when he said: “Getting permission is not as easy as a simple phone call ... Teams have concerns about their people.”

But this goes beyond being granted permission to interview, something Linden himself suggested when, after being pushed for comment on hiring an executive on another team, he said: “There may need to be a partnership moving forward.”

That’s important because word out of Boston early in this process was that they’d like to keep Benning until after the draft.

Linden recently visited Bruins president Cam Neely in Boston. Could an anticipated stalemate on the Benning-front have motivated the trip?

Apr 30, 5:19 PM

Canucks president Trevor Linden to begin GM talks next week; aiming for end of May hiring

Apr 30, 5:19 PM

Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden says he will start the interviewing process for a new general manager next week and hopes to have the position filled by the end of May.

Speaking with Sportsnet 590 The FAN"s Tim and Sid on Wednesday, Linden expressed the importance of timing in his search for a GM and the cooperation from teams around the league who currently employ candidates qualified for the position.

"I think ultimately teams understand that their people want to have the opportunity to move up," Linden said. "So I'm very happy with my list and the process will be conducted in a timely fashion..."

Linden added that he would like to complete the hiring in a timely fashion and give the new GM a chance to acclimate himself before the NHL Draft begins June 27.

"...Ultimately I want to make sure I'm thinking through it systematically, but ideally (the GM signing) would be at the end of May, early June."

Although he declined to comment on the number of names on his list, Linden revealed that new Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving was a person he looked forward to interviewing before he was hired April 28.

"He was someone that I wanted to talk to, but that's how it goes," he said.

There's been a lot of speculation about the future of head coach John Tortorella after a disappointing first season in Vancouver and Linden, who said he was assessing the coaching situation, expressed the importance of allowing the new GM have the ability to pick his own guy.

I think that's imperative. Obviously a new manager needs to come in and have the ability and have some autonomy and make decisions. Obviously, We have to work together and have consensus on things. I don't think there's many managers that would walk into a situation and not have (the right to pick their own head coach).

Feature photo courtesy of Getty/Rich Lam

Apr 24, 7:06 PM

Canucks president Trevor Linden set to begin talks with GM candidates

Apr 24, 7:06 PM

Freshly-minted Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden hasn't made a decision on head coach John Tortorella's future, he's only just begun the process of searching for a new general manager, and he isn't sharing his blueprints for restoring the Canucks to their accustomed perch as a perennial playoff team.

A powerhouse for much of the past decade, the Vancouver Canucks fell apart this season, and fell deep into the draft lottery in the process. The 2013-14 Canucks were a lemon as key cogs like Daniel and Henrik Sedin sputtered, supporting pieces proved ill-fitting, and star players like Ryan Kesler (reportedly) and Roberto Luongo asked out. The club's obvious, flimsy construction ultimately cost general manager Mike Gillis his job.

Now Linden needs to pick up the pieces, but he's still not sure how those pieces fit together. "I'm trying to take time to think through things strategically" Linden told the Vancouver Province on Thursday. "I have a lot of balls in the air; a lot of different pieces of the puzzle."

Linden, who hasn't worked in a coaching or executive capacity since retiring from the NHL in 2007, faces a number of pressing decisions early on in his executive tenure; a head coach in John Tortorella who remains on the hot seat, and a lingering GM-vacancy to fill. 

Asked if he was intent on finding a new general manager before making a final decision on Tortorella's fate, Linden wasn't divulging any details Thursday. 

"I’ve got some thoughts there," Linden told the Province, "I’m not going to go into it one way or another. There are pieces of the puzzle that have to fit together." Linden did, however, indicate to the Globe & Mail's David Ebner that his "ideal" would be to hire a general manager before deciding on Tortorella's future.

While little is known about Linden's philosophy or his closely guarded plans for the team, he's expressed a potentially instructive fondness for 'the Boston model'; citing the sustained success of Vancouver's 2011 Stanley Cup Final opponent, the Boston Bruins, as a potential road map. If only the Boston Bruins' model came with a Lego-type how-to pamphlet

Perhaps this so-called model was a topic of discussion when Linden met with Boston Bruins president Cam Neely on Thursday. That seems to be the case, because the Province reports that Linden didn't formally request permission to speak with highly-regarded Bruins assistant general manager and Linden's former Canucks teammate Jim Benning; even though a team spokesman told the Globe & Mail "the request process is underway."

"We’re putting a list together, we’re trying to put a schedule together" Linden said of the progress on the search for a new general manager. "The one thing I’ll say is I spoke to several GMs and I haven’t got any push back on timing, whether they’re playing or not."