This is pretty much the only picture of Jim Benning. Think about how many times you’ve seen it.
It’s hardly a secret that the Canucks have been after Jim Benning, presently an assistant GM with the Boston Bruins, to replace Mike Gillis as the General Manager in Vancouver, and it’s easy to see why they want him: for the last five years, the Canucks have been led by the one-two of Gillis and still-employed AGM Laurence Gilman, two men whose surnames sound very similar. No doubt they’ve keyed wordplay as the secret to success, and very quickly landed on Jim Benning, whose surname rhymes with that of Lorne Henning, their other AGM.
Expect to hear a lot more of Lorne Henning, then, simply because “Benning and Henning” sounds so good together, now that the Canucks are expected to announce Benning’s hiring in the coming days, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.
I, for one, am quite pleased at this announcement, and not just because Benning has had success helping to build a winner in Boston, or because his draft record with the Buffalo Sabres looks incredibly good in hindsight, but because it means an end to the hand-wringing stories about how Benning might go somewhere else.
Apart from a brief mention of Scott Howson (to whom most people say “no thanks”, since he has the stink of Columbus all over him despite some really good work near the end of his tenure there), Benning’s name has really been the only one we’ve heard for a month. And as with all things, if someone tells you that you want it enough times, you eventually come to want it. (This is the principle on which “Blurred Lines” was written.)
Despite only having heard of him, like, six weeks ago, the people of Vancouver coveted Jim Benning something fierce. So it was that when GM jobs in Pittsburgh and Washington opened up, the people found themselves thinking, Oh no, oh no, what if they take our Benning, the precious, we wants the precious, not the Penguinses, sneaky little Penguinses, wicked, wicked, the precious belongs to us, it is ours, the precious.
You can see why those positions might appeal to Benning a little more. In the case of the Penguins, you’re inheriting a pretty decent core that only features two of the best players in the world, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, both of whom are in their prime. Furthermore, it wouldn’t take much to retrofit that team into a winner. You just have to find some complementary bottom-six guys. That’s not quite as easy as it sounds, but they don’t even really have to be that good. They just have to be better than Tanner Glass.
Same goes for the Capitals, where it’s really a matter of installing a system that better utilizes your top guy, Alex Ovechkin, and adding a few pieces around him. In other words, taking a job in Pittsburgh or Washington gives you a better chance to win real soon, as Alain Vigneault might say.
But there’s one major reason why Benning might still be more interested in what awaits him in Vancouver: ego.
In the case of Vancouver, you’re looking down the barrel of a reset, and some serious work. That may not be ideal for those of us who hate actual work — like, for instance, the author of this piece, who has the uncallused hands of a man that flees the shovel on sight — but for a man looking to put his stamp on a team, there’s no better opportunity than Vancouver.
Consider: for his entire tenure here, Mike Gillis was dogged by criticisms that he did very little. According to many, he just inherited someone else’s core, profited off someone else’s work. Granted, much of this criticism was from people with an admitted personal axe to grind, and even though he kept many pieces, he still spearheaded a complete turnaround in this city, but it still bothered Gillis, likely because there was an element of truth to it. Like Benning would be doing in Washington, Gillis’s greatest triumph was surrounding the core that was here when he arrived with the pieces necessary to make a Stanley Cup run.
Again, that’s not a walk in the park, but it’s still easier than building a winner from scratch, and if you’re looking to discredit a guy, it’s a good place to start.
For a guy like Benning, who’s played second-fiddle to others for years, maybe the opportunity to hand in his own work rather than editing someone else’s paper is more in line with what he’s looking for? If so, you can see why he’s reportedly decided Vancouver’s the place for him.
Or maybe it’s just because he played here for four years, and he knows how much nicer a city Vancouver is than D.C. or Pittsburgh.
Or perhaps he too is enchanted by the sound of “Benning and Henning”. It really rolls off the tongue.Tags: Jim Benning