Never to assume anything because when you take away the last three letters you can look like a donkey’s butt if you’re wrong, which brings us to Matt Benning. We’ve all assumed he would slide into the No. 4 defence spot on the Edmonton Oilers with no fuss and no muss with the torn knee ligament surgery to Andrej Sekera, but we forget that Benning has played all of 74 NHL games, if you count 12 in the playoffs. That’s not even a full season. He was one of the surprises last training camp, making the team right out of college as a free-agent signing, starting as a No. 7 and winding up playing 16 and a half minutes a game as a rookie. He was basically a third-pairing D with either Darnell Nurse or Eric Gryba, barring a little moving around. What we know is progression in hockey is not necessarily lineal. There’s fits and starts. So, let’s give Benning room to breathe with the new role, at least until he’s played several games in October, to make sure there’s no sophomore fall-back, something you always have to watch for. He had a good game in Saskatoon with Kris Russell against Carolina but his play until then was lukewarm; he hadn’t been assertive enough for the coaches, with and without the puck. Benning, 23, knows he’s under the gun.
Benning ready to take on bigger role with Oilers
Edmonton Sun | Sep 30