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The Messy End Between Jim Benning and the Canucks, 1990 and 1991.


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With the recent developments that the Vancouver Canucks have approached Jim Benning to become the franchise's new general manager, I suppose there is one small bit of background information that probably has no relevance anymore but may as well be heard anyway. The Canucks and Benning parted ways on questionable terms after a series of events beginning when the team inexplicably benched him for nine straight games despite strong performances from him.

Benning was acquired by the Canucks in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs for Rick Lanz. He then spent the last four seasons of his career with the Canucks, playing well the majority of the time but receiving poor treatment from the organization at times. The Canucks were fairly ruthless, managed by Pat Quinn (and Brian Burke), and coached by Bob McCammon.

The last several weeks of Benning's career as an NHL player were messy. After playing well and becoming the team's leader in +/-, the Canucks sat him for nine consecutive games. They then told him not to attend practice and tried to send him to the minors in February 1990 -- Benning declined. Friction developed between both sides, resulting in Benning playing his final game in the NHL on March 4, 1990. Two games before his final game as a Canuck, Benning had a three-assist performance (February 28, 1990; a 7-7 tie against the Philadelphia Flyers). The Canucks still had 11 games remaining in their season after March 4, 1990.

Here is the basic chronology of events, told through articles published in 1990 and 1991:

Canucks find winning formula against Flyers in OT: [3* Edition]
Beamish, Mike. The Vancouver Sun [Vancouver, B.C] 19 Jan 1990: B2.


Defenceman Jim Benning, an effective but rarely conspicuous performer, was a spark for the Canucks, making the absence of Paul Reinhart (bad back) hardly noticeable.

"He was high steppin' out there!", said teammate Craig Coxe in admiration of Benning, who scored the Canucks' first goal, set up the second and generally spearheaded the attack. The offensive show put the spotlight on the unassuming defenceman who has been one of the Canucks' best players over the past month. Benning, affectionately known as Benji by his mates, is a plus-seven in his past 15 games.

"I'm being given a chance to play a little bit more," Benning said. "We're playing six defencemen. Before we used to play seven. Sometimes I didn't get on as much. Now I'm getting a chance to play every night. The last couple of games I've been on the power play, and that's also given me confidence."

Benning says it'll be interesting to see if the Canucks can add to the momentum of a one-game win streak tonight against the Blackhawks in Chicago.

"We're by no means out of it," Benning said. "If we keep working like we have, we'll put some wins together."

Don't look now. . .: [1* Edition]
Jamieson, Jim. The Province [Vancouver, B.C] 05 Feb 1990: 25.


Vladimir Krutov, with an eye infection, Craig Coxe, Jim Benning and Doug Smith were the designated sitters last night.

Injury a pain in the neck: [FINAL Edition]
The Gazette [Montreal, Que] 15 Feb 1990: F2.


Rich Sutter sat out, serving the second of a five-game suspension assessed by the league. Other Canucks on the sidelines were Jim Benning, Vladimir Krutov, Doug Smith, Craig Coxe, Harold Snepsts and Daryl Stanley.

Oilers get call for overtime: [EARLY Edition]
Jim Matheson. Edmonton Journal [Edmonton, Alta] 17 Feb 1990: H1.


Canucks didn't dress Paul Reinhart, who rested a sore back after a long flight home from Montreal Thursday. Jim Benning, Steve Bozek and Daryl Stanley (severed tendons in a baby finger), also didn't dress.

Quick Facts: [3* Edition]
The Vancouver Sun [Vancouver, B.C] 17 Feb 1990: H2.

Canucks' record when trailing after two periods moved to 3-25-4 with last night's come-from-behind tie.

* Canucks are 13 points behind their pace of last season. They have scored 21 fewer goals and have allowed 39 more, a whopping 60 goal differential.

* Despite having the second best plus-minus among Canuck defenceman (plus-3), Jim Benning was scratched for the seventh straight game.


Agonizing NHL year: [1* Edition]
Jamieson, Jim. The Province [Vancouver, B.C] 20 Feb 1990: 53.


* It appears Jim Benning and Doug Smith are the odd men out in the Canucks' recent youth movement.

Benning, one of Vancouver's better defencemen for a stretch in January, hasn't played in eight games, while Smith, a right wing, has sat out 16 of the last 18 games.

"I thought I was playing good hockey," said Benning. "I've never sat out more than two (consecutive) games in nine years (in the NHL). I'm just trying to prepare myself to play."

"When we were on the (four-game) winning streak Benning was out of the lineup," said coach Bob McCammon. "It's no reflection on him. It's just numbers and what you need."
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2 things....

1) man did Quinn ever frack over the Canucks...this, bure's ordeal and Gretzky wanting to be here, but not wanting to play for the management.

2) no more free rides for Edler, Sedins, etc.

This is funny! Quinn really screwed the canucks eh?

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Interesting stuff, well for the Canuck fans who were not present during those times. But I wouldn't make much of it.

It's been nearly 25 years since that time and Benning has been in a management role for the last few years now, in addition to working in scouting capacities for other organizations, so I'd assume he'd understand some of the Quinn/Burke rationale in organization management, right or wrong. Winning the cup against Vancouver, in Vancouver no less, may have been a nice little feat to feel like he got even, if he so desired that.

If Bure and the Canucks can make up after their fiasco, I can't see why Benning, with respect to his skill and image in comparison to Bure's in Vancouver and ultimately, the NHL, wouldn't be able to make up/move on. Professionalism does exist.

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I had no idea Sam Reinharts dad use to play for the Canucks. Thats trippy.

Ahh newby canuck fans reinhart was great

Yup, Brown put up pretty good numbers in his short stint here but I still say Reinhart was the closest thing to a true PP quarterback we've ever had as a franchise. He was just a little long in the tooth by the time he joined the Canucks and had injury problems.

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