By The Real Logan B
Man. Is there anyone in pro sports who has less of an idea what they’re doing than Jim Benning, general manager of the Vancouver Canucks?
Hear me out. I know Craig MacTavish was bad. I know Don Sweeney is a close second. I know John Tortorella and Dean Lombardi nearly singlehandedly took a rapidly ascending US Men’s Hockey population and tanked them at the World Cup.
They don’t come close to Jim Benning.
MacTavish knew what he wanted to do, he just didn’t understand how to do it. He built from the outside in, leaving the middle of the team roster – the defense, sandwiched between the studly offense and the rotating cast of qualified goaltenders – without much to stand on. He had a plan; it just sucked.
John Tortorella and Dean Lombardi know what they’re doing, they just also kind of suck. No, seriously; they both think that their way is the best way, refusing to learn and grow with an organic, evolving game. It hurt them this year, and I’m assuming it will again in the future.
Don Sweeney is close to Benning in that no one seems to quite know what he’s doing, but at least he has a clear goal:
- Re-vamp the ‘culture’ of the Boston Bruins
- Bring back #grit
- Stanley Cup!
Then there’s Benning.
On the radio today, Benning – a former protege of current Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli – said that his goal this year is the same it’s been since the summer. He wants to ice a competitive roster, while also giving the youth a chance to develop and grow.
Excuse me, what?
It’s possible to give a young player a chance to grow and develop on a competitive roster. It’s also possible to have a competitive roster made of young (but developed) players. You can’t have a mass of young, inexperienced players looking to win the Stanley Cup, though.
At least Benning seems to get that. He also stated that he wants to see the team eke out a Wild Card spot, making the playoffs (albeit just barely).
That’s inanely stupid.
Congratulations, Benning. You want to throw your young players into competitive situations to ‘develop’, but also want to win games, so you scratch them and float them up and down regularly. You also want to just miss out on a lottery pick, making the playoffs with a likely undeserving roster that you can’t improve as much on by bidding yourself out of the summer’s top draft-eligible prospects.
Of course, I don’t think he *actually* wants to do all of these things, in any way other than in the way I want to look like an Instagram model and want to start making a million dollars. He can’t realistically want all of these things, because they aren’t cohesive and possible together.
No, I think Benning is just paying lip service to the fans. I think he’s telling them what he thinks they all want to hear – which is that their young players will get better but also be a competitive and fun-to-watch team and also make the playoffs.
In reality, I think he has no idea what’s going on. I think Jim Benning is about ten thousand leagues in over his head, and he’s not sure how to dig himself back out again while still keeping the fans happy.
The reality? He can’t.
He’s going to have to upset the fans if he wants to get something accomplished. If he wants to be competitive, he’s going to have to mortgage the future (more, of course, than he already has). If he wants to develop the young players, he’s going to have to do what the Arizona Coyotes are doing this year – bite the bullet and accept that man, the team is going to suck a big one. If he wants to be a Wild Card team, he’s going to have to step down as GM – because who the hell has seventh or eighth place in the conference as their goal for the year?
I don’t think he knows what to do in either situation, though. He’s hoping he can continue appeasing the fans with open, vague promises until the roster finally rights itself.
As a non-Vancouver fan, I find this absolutely hilarious. I feel for the players that are being put in a losing position no matter what, because I would never actively root for someone’s livelihood to be turned into something miserable and foul for them. I find the state of the roster, though, to be quite entertaining.
For Vancouverites, though, this has to be tougher each day. The fans that are still clinging to the hope that Benning actually has a master plan are growing more disillusioned by the day.
The Bruins were at least given security with a good extension for Brad Marchand, a good draft pick in Charlie McAvoy, and the hope that David Backes will be as advertised. They’re starting to see a bit of a plan for their own hapless GM.
The Canucks, though, aren’t getting much more than an increasingly comical series of errors from their own at-helm personnel.
Get a clue, Benning.