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Deep Blue Sea: What’s wrong in Vancouver?

Plus Canucks woes, plus Riley Tufte, Rangers trade rumors and a new NHL partnership in today’s news and notes.

The Vancouver Canucks take a 30 second time out to plan their defense as they hold to beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on November 19, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Photo by Devin Manky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Vancouver Canucks have been free-falling for what seems like the past few years. While the team is definitely playing ‘Want U Back’ every time Jonathan Dahlen hits the ice, divesting themselves of General Manager Jim Benning might not solve all their problems.

The Canucks are a poorly constructed team whose management has been making trades and drafting as if the team were in a playoff position, which means that the Canucks are left without key draft picks and are under the thumb of some big contracts. The closest the Canucks have come to the Stanley Cup in recent times was during the 2019-20 post-season bubble, where they lost in the second round to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Since then, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Tyler Toffoli, Troy Stecher, Adam Gaudette, Jordie Benn, Jacob Markstrom and Zach MacEwen, who were all part of that cup-clamoring team, have exited, the Canucks have lost cap space by taking on larger contracts like defender Oliver Ekman-Larsson and are kept from the bottom of the standings by virtue of the expansion Seattle Kraken.

The Canucks have a 6-10-2 record, largely due to their lack of defensive depth and their top players struggling to produce goals, as well as their incongruent AHL and NHL systems and their inability to effectively develop young players. The Canucks players themselves seem to have given up once the first goal against goes in; there’s a lack of energy, and it’s stemming from the top.

I have to wonder if Jim Benning’s time is almost up. Attendance is down, the team seems to be disconnected from management and fans are publicly calling for his resignation. On Nov. 16, Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini met with Benning to discuss the team’s future and why they keep losing. It doesn’t yet seem like a change is coming from the top, but the meeting signaled that unless something changes in the standings, Benning will be on the hot seat.

The problems in Vancouver stem from before Benning’s time, but since his arrival to the team in 2015, the Canucks have been treading water in the midst of their own high expectations. He’s not the sole problem, and there may be a coaching change coming to, but as the most public face of the Canucks woes, it’ll be Benning’s head on a platter when change comes to Vancouver.

News & Notes

Blood in the Water

  • Canucks GM Benning on team’s awful start: ‘I feel responsible’ [Sportsnet]
  • NHL’s total abandonment of series-style scheduling leaves road-weary players scratching their heads [The Athletic]
  • Stars rookie ruthlessly scratched just ahead of Minnesota NHL homecoming [Yahoo Sports]
  • Does Alex Ovechkin actually have a shot at breaking Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goals record? [CBS Sports]
  • Unmasked: Inexperienced goalies getting chance in NHL [NHL]
  • NHL Partnership with chemical company leaves environmental watchdogs cold [The New York Times]
  • Rangers pursuing ‘middle-six’ forward amid hot start [TSN]

Scores & Recaps

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