In the ongoing debate over Jim Benning’s managerial acumen, there’s really only one opinion that counts, and if the Vancouver Canucks’ general manager was concerned about his job security, that matter was laid to rest this week. “I am pleased with how Jim has performed,” Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini told Sportsnet 650. “I’m optimistic we’re going to come to an agreement with him.” And there it is. Unless something changes dramatically — and because these are the Canucks you can’t rule anything out — it would seem Aquilini is married to the vision Benning and Trevor Linden have created for this franchise. As it happens, that vision is now coming into focus for the first time in Benning’s three-plus years here which, following 28th- and 29th-place finishes, has also created some optimism around the Canucks. Or maybe it’s just the pessimism isn’t as deeply rooted. Whatever the case, it now seems the Canucks will be on board the Benning train for the foreseeable future, which brings us back to the question which hung in the air when the Edmontonian was hired in the first place. Is he the man who will finally get things right in Vancouver? Can he bring long-term, sustained success to a franchise which has known so much frustration and heartache in its five decades of existence? The answer — and you’re going to love this — is … maybe. “(The contract extension) will work itself out,” said Benning, who’s in the final year of his deal. “We’ll get that figured out. I’m focused on continuing to do the work we started. “I’m more concerned about trying to change the culture of the group. Since I took the job, we’ve been trying to rebuild the organization. It’s something that doesn’t happen overnight. Kids take time. But I think this is the first year we’re starting to see the (Brock) Boesers and I think every year after this we’ll see (young players integrated into the lineup).” And then we will see if this change is real and lasting or another mirage. Any assessment of Benning’s work to date has to start with the Canucks’ young players and prospects he’s assembled. We’re not going to spend a lot of time itemizing that list because it’s known to even the most casual Canucks’ fun. Suffice to say there are 10 regulars on the NHL team, led by Bo Horvat and Boeser, who are 25 and younger, and the Canucks have at least 10 legitimate NHL prospects in their system, ranging from Elias Pettersson, Olli Juolevi and Thatcher Demko at the high end to Will Lockwood and Jonah Gadjovich at the lower.
Canucks owner 'optimistic' about extension for GM Benning
The Province | Nov 11