Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
We understand we set impressive new standards for back flipping last week — give Jim Benning a chance; he did what? GAWWWKKKK — but there was something about the cumulative effect of the Canucks’ moves that didn’t exactly inspire confidence.
There’s no need to recap them here. But, one after the other, it seems the team was either trading assets for 70 cents on the dollar or firing capable and devoted Canucks. It could be Benning is right in all his judgments. It could be this is the start of a newly imagined organization. But sitting here in July 2015, it’s hard to see where this is the start of anything except more disappointment.
Two things stand out after all the dust has settled. The four most influential positions in the hockey department now belong to Trevor Linden, Benning, John Weisbrod and T.C. Carling.
Of those four, Linden has held his position the longest.
There’s also something troubling about the construction of that front office. Loyalty is one thing but you wonder who’s going to stand up and say, “This is a bad idea. Let’s think about this.”
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
“Did I have any idea I’d be traded? No, no. I had no clue. I know on July 1 there’s a lot of action and I’m going into the last year of my contract. But after the playoffs I had (a postseason career-high goal and three assists in 12 games, and some industrial-strength work), I didn’t think there was any way they’d trade me.
“A few of the boys texted me,” Prust said of his now former Canadiens teammates. “Their reaction was quite the same for everybody – they were in shock. ‘What the hell?’ that was basically the reaction.”
There was more pragmatic feedback coming from Prust’s parents, Kevin and Theresa.
“Their first reaction was, ‘Oh man, now we have to stay up late to watch all your games,’ ” he said with a laugh. “They don’t miss a second of a game. People were telling them, ‘PVR it and watch it the next day,’ and they’re saying, ‘Yeah, right, like we’re going to do that.’ ”
Some observers were suggesting that Prust was on thin ice with the Canadiens the minute he ran afoul of referee Brad Watson in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal vs. Tampa Bay.
He was thrown out of the match, then fined $5,000 for having alleged in post-game comments that Watson had insulted and sworn at him, remarks for which he later apologized.
Wife Noureen DeWulf credited with one too.
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
Benning is apt to be judged by how well many of the young prospects the club has and continues to bring in under its umbrella do as their careers unfold. Certainly, the early reports on him as a negotiator and as a trader are not particularly good, although there’s no way any of his trades can be fully judged yet.
But the dismissal of Laurence Gilman Thursday seems to be yet a monumentally bonehead move for two reasons.
First, the contract negotiation work in which Gilman had a massive hand during the Mike Gillis years was infinitely superior to the couple of early samples of contract work we’ve seen from this regime. If ever there was a clear strength from the old crew it was in this area, both in negotiating the hard ones and getting guys to take less to stay here. Yet they kiss off the guy largely responsible. How the owner can sit there and watch this happen is anyone’s guess.
Second, Gilman had an outstanding relationship with the powers that be in the NHL’s head office. Losing that longevity of rapport for the money they paid Gilman makes no sense, even if they decided that the wizard who signed Derek Dorsett and Luca Sbisa should continue in that role and Trevor Linden will forever be listed among Gary Bettman’s favourites.
It’s not that we didn’t know it was coming, given Gilman had no hand in negotiating anything other than dinner reservations for these guys, but the stupidity of it hits home when it happens.
Vancouver, BC – Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Operations, Trevor Linden announced today that the club has relieved Vice President, Hockey Operations and Assistant General Manager, Laurence Gilman, Assistant General Manager, Lorne Henning and Director, Player Personnel, Eric Crawford of their duties.
“On behalf of our entire organization I would like to sincerely thank Laurence, Lorne and Eric for their commitment and dedication to the Vancouver Canucks,” said Trevor Linden. “They have been important members of our staff for a long time and made significant contributions to the success of this team. Further still, they are great people and respected members of the hockey community.”
“We have made some difficult decisions to our roster and staff recently after a thorough review of the team,” continued Linden. “These are not easy decisions, nor were they taken lightly. But they’re important as we transition this team and build for the future.”
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,
The Canucks are not helping themselves with their mixed messages. They keep talking about getting younger, but continue to acquire players like Prust who are in their 30s, and chase players like 27-year-old Milan Lucic.
It drives a fan base nuts when you do things like that, even though there’s a chance the opening night lineup could include Frankie Corrado, Adam Clendening, Sven Baertschi and Jake Virtanen.
Rather harshly, TSN’s main Free Agent Frenzy broadcast aired an edited string of calls into TEAM 1040 from inflamed listeners who were going to town on Vancouver’s front office. It means next week’s town hall with season-ticket holders has the potential to be a gong show.
But the truth is, it’s going to take more than one year to really see what Benning’s Canucks are going to look like.
He’s freed up some money for next summer and is hoping now to be a player in the high-end of the free agent market.
If Corrado, Baertschi and Virtanen hit this year, and if Benning can lure a quality free agent or two next offseason, things will change.
But right now? Right now, there isn’t a lot of hope. There is still no succession plan for the Sedin twins and this current collection of Canucks do not look like a playoff team. Like, at all.
Then again, many of us said that same thing last summer.
Vancouver, B.C. - Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning announced today that the Canucks have acquired a 2016 second round draft pick from Anaheim in exchange for defenceman Kevin Bieksa.
“We would like to thank Kevin and his wife Katie for their incredible commitment to this team and community,” said General Manager Jim Benning. “It’s always a difficult decision to trade a player who’s been such a big part of an organization for so long and we wanted to make sure we did what was best for both Kevin and the Canucks. Kevin was a leader for us and will always be connected with our fans and the Vancouver Canucks because of all he did for this province and team. We wish him and his family the very best.”
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
- General manager Ron Francis made it clear that the priority at this point is to try and sign Staal to an extension.
"I’ve had a general and open and honest conversation with Eric’s agent on things," Francis said Saturday. "We’ll continue to have those as we move into the summer. Eric has indicated he wants to be part of the Hurricanes moving forward, and we’ll see if we can get that worked out."
- General manager Jim Benning shed a bit more light on the deal that wasn’t completed with San Jose for Bieksa on Friday. It fell apart because the Canucks wanted a second-round pick in this year’s draft and the Sharks were only willing to provide a second-rounder next year.
"Going in, the market place dictates that Johnny Boychuk went for two second-round picks," Benning said, citing last fall’s deal between the Boston Bruins and the New York Islanders. "Kevin is a little bit older. That’s what our asking price was [a second-round pick this year]. I don’t think it’s too much, I think it’s fair. That’s what we were trying to get if we were going to move Kevin."
But for now, Bieksa remains a Canuck, although sources suggest Vancouver is talking to other teams.
"He’s still part of our team. We’ll continue to explore options and see where it goes," said Benning.
They say they want to get younger, but they’re not in the Dougie Hamilton trade talks and instead were pursuing Milan Lucic? They already have a younger, albeit poor man’s Lucic in Zack Kassian, but they won’t give him the slightest chance to succeed.
We’re a year into this regime and that’s way too early to be reaching any conclusions, particularly given Benning has a scouting background and his strength should be at the draft table. But to borrow a phrase from Harry Neale, the overall impression so far is of two guys trying to carry three pounds of bleep in a two-pound bag.
-Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province on the Vancouver Canucks. Read more on the Canucks and the Eddie Lack trade.
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