Unless you’re his neighbour or co-worker, you probably haven’t seen Jim Benning around Vancouver since he was named the Canucks’ general manager two weeks ago. He has had a few things on his plate, which further overflowed Friday with the firing of Pittsburgh Penguins’ coach Dan Bylsma. And Benning’s workload will only increase as the June 27-28 entry draft approaches and the Canucks’ try to move up. Hiring a head coach is on Benning’s to-do list, and that item will probably remain there until at least the end of the National Hockey League and American Hockey League seasons. “We’ve been in meetings all day, so we haven’t had a chance to really sit down and talk about it,” Benning said Friday afternoon of Bylsma’s sudden availability. “But he’s an interesting name, for sure. “We’re going to wait until the NHL is done and the AHL is done. We’re going to do our due diligence on this. We want to make sure we pick the right guy that’s right for this group. So we’re going to take our time and do the work. It has gone good so far and I expect it to keep going good.” Benning and his boss, Canuck president of hockey operations Trevor Linden, began interviewing candidates this week. But the two coaches believed to be at the front of the field, Los Angeles Kings’ assistant John Stevens and minor-league coach Willie Desjardins of the Texas Stars, are still working. So it won’t extend the hiring process when Benning suspends his coaching search next week to concentrate on the Canucks’ scouting summit in Whistler. Benning will gather together the full amateur and professional scouting staffs he inherited from former GM Mike Gillis. Given the Canucks’ failure the last decade to draft and develop players, then introduce them into the organization’s NHL lineup, Benning’s defence of long-time chief scout Ron Delorme and his staff is surprising to some people. But Benning rose in management on the amateur scouting side of operations, remains a scout at heart and understands it’s an unfair oversimplification simply to look at the lack of in internally-developed Canuck players in recent years and conclude the amateur scouts don’t know what they’re doing.
Bylsma definitely on Benning’s coaching radar
Vancouver Sun | Jun 8