Now that top centre Bo Horvat is returning from injury, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has everything he needs. Except a new contract. Benning would like one of those, of course. But he knows an extension from managing owner Francesco Aquilini is now pretty much out of his hands and in the team’s. The Canucks, their health restored after December’s injury crisis scuttled their National Hockey League season, will finish well and stoke optimism. Or they will not. Either way, it seems highly likely that the Aquilinis will allow Benning to finish the season – and his four-year contract – and then review his work and make a decision on their GM. Just as they did in 2008 with Dave Nonis, just as they nearly did in 2014 with Mike Gillis, who worked the trade deadline but was fired in the final week of the regular season with four years and $8 million still owed to him. Benning, with support from hockey-operations president Trevor Linden, will continue to manage the Canucks through the Feb. 26 trade deadline with his eye on the future. That means Benning and Linden will make big decisions on looming unrestricted free agents Erik Gudbranson and Thomas Vanek, who will be re-signed or traded. What happens with Gudbranson, 26, a benchmark acquisition by Benning who has yet to fulfill expectations in Vancouver, could affect the Canucks for years.
Canucks’ Jim Benning marches on, with his future still to be determined
Sportsnet | Jan 19