The Canucks confirmed Wednesday what many had been suspecting ever since Trevor Linden was brought in to preside over the Vancouver Canucks: Jim Benning was the guy he was told to hire.
“There were moments of clarity for me in speaking with Jim that we just really connected on a hockey level,” Linden said of the personnel move that’s been rumoured since well before he would have had time to put together a proper list of candidates. “Our beliefs on how success is built in the National Hockey League were very aligned.”
GM Benning will be introduced on Friday, and he appears to be a fitting solution to the Canucks’ problem — that their present team in disarray. In an effort to placate the season-ticket holders, who have been dropping their season-tickets, so as to hold their nose with both hands at this year’s club, the team has made a concerted effort to divert attention to literally any other time. Linden represents the past — 1994, in all its glory. Benning now represents the future, and will set a course for the fabled Boston Model™, a dragon that grants wishes, which cannot be summoned unless you collect its seven dragon balls.
Okay. The Boston Model™ isn’t a wishdragon. But it may as well be, because it totally doesn’t exist.
Consider: If you’re hoping to copy Boston’s roster make-up, you’ll need the following:
In summary: Worst. Scavenger hunt. Ever.
The Boston Model is a myth. The Bruins are a great team not because they targeted certain types of players, but because they put together a core of some great players, then they surrounded them with a complete team’s worth of good players (plus Shawn Thornton) thanks to savvy drafting, trades, and free agent signings.
It’s not a unique approach. Prior to calling it the Boston Model, people were calling it the Red Wings Model. In fact, Peter Chiarelli, the Bruins’ GM, basically said exactly that. From an article titled Bruins’ Chiarelli built winner using Red Wings’ model:
“I have great respect for that organization. Great respect for [general manager] Kenny Holland, [coach] Mike Babcock, the Ilitch family. I followed them for a lot of years — maybe that long, 23 years,” Chiarelli said during a press conference at TD Garden on Monday.
“Kenny, I got to know him a little better during the [2014 Sochi] Olympics. He’s very bright. He looks at things a lot of different ways, a lot of different angles, to get a solution. And then you can see that in their [player] development. They like developing people in the minors, but they also find players elsewhere in trades and in free agents, and that’s what we try and do.”
Call it the Boston Model™. Call it a MacGuffin. Call it what you want. Either way, it’s the goal of every single team in the NHL, or heck, every single team in every single sport: Have a lot of good players. Preferably more than the other team.
And it was the Canucks’ major failing this year and last. They had some good players, no doubt, but they didn’t have nearly enough of them. The Sedins and Ryan Kesler aren’t going to cut it. You need guys that can step up when the core’s not going. The Canucks had none, thanks to a bunch of trades, signings, and drafts that didn’t pan out. They were a Kinder surprise with no toy, no surprise.
This is where Benning should help. He’s got a lot of experience in a lot of different areas, but his best skill seems to be as a talent evaluator. Consider this nugget, juxtaposing the Canucks’ head scout with Benning’s time in the same role in Buffalo:
During his entire run with VAN (00-12), Ron Delorme drafted 4538 GP into the NHL. With BUF, Jim Benning did that by 2002. A decade faster.
— Rhys J (@Thats_Offside) May 22, 2014
If Benning can bring anything even remotely close to that level of success to Vancouver, there’s a good chance the team will be able to ice a full lineup of contributors. And when you’re turning up NHLers all over the place, you’re bound to turn up one or two that can’t just be photocopied onto other teams.
Then maybe people start talking about the Vancouver model.