Robongo Posted December 3, 2015 Share Posted December 3, 2015 Knowing key centre Brandon Sutter would undergo hernia surgery, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning spent the last few days making trade calls to see which centres might be available around the National Hockey League and what they would cost. Listening to Benning talk about his team Wednesday, you have to wonder what other types of players he may be asking about. With the Canucks transitioning to a younger, faster team while still carrying a stack of long-term contracts on older players, Benning understands his group will lose more games than it did in the seasons before he arrived 18 months ago. But he hates the way the Canucks lost meekly 4-0 Monday in Anaheim — the only regulation loss on a 1-1-2 road trip Benning sat out. “That Anaheim game was the most disappointing loss for me since I’ve been here,” Benning said Wednesday as the Canucks announced Sutter will miss another four to six weeks. “We’ve lost games before, but no matter what, we worked hard as a team and we stuck up for one another. I don’t know what happened in that Anaheim game, but … we didn’t work and compete. “I just felt that there were instances in that game where last year we (would have) stuck up for one another; when someone was picking on one of our guys … it was a pack mentality and as a team we stuck up for each other. For whatever reason, we didn’t stick up for each other that game. That was really disappointing for me to see that.” Canucks rookie Jake Virtanen suffered a hip injury when cross-checked by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who near the end of the game also roughed up another 19-year-old, Jared McCann. McCann had hit Getzlaf in the corner after the Canuck was run into the boards by Ryan Kesler on his previous shift. Canucks winger Chris Higgins was also hurt on a check to the head by Nick Ritchie. There was no response from Canucks on the ice to any of these plays. “I think it started with Getzlaf cross-checking Jake, and we didn’t have any pushback on that,” Benning said. “It was the Ritchie hit on Higgins and there was no pushback from our group on that. As a team last year, we always stuck up for each other. At the end of the game, I was happy to see McCann do that (against Getzlaf). Kesler hit McCann along the boards and, I thought, went out of his way to hurt him. I was happy to see with Jared, there was pushback from him. He wasn’t just going to take it from Getzlaf. To have a pushback from a 19-year-old kid … I would have liked to see more pushback from our team as a group.” So his group, which added Brandon Prust in the off-season, isn’t tough enough? “I think it’s a mindset that, you know, we’re going to stick together no matter what,” Benning explained. “If someone’s going after one of our guys, they’ll have to deal with all of us on the ice. It’s not about fighting, it’s about a mindset from the group that we’re going to stick together and we’re going to have team toughness. That’s the thing I care most about.” From Alain Vigneault to John Tortorella to Willie Desjardins, Canucks coaches have lauded Vancouver players for showing up every night to compete. That didn’t happen in Anaheim. The next night, Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime loss in Los Angeles, the Canucks outhit the Kings 37-25. But playing their 11th road game out of 13, with travel before 12 of the 13, the Canucks were clearly spent by the third period and made it to OT only because of goalie Jacob Markstrom’s 38-save night. Obviously, this still isn’t the Canucks team Benning envisioned when he was hired by hockey-ops president Trevor Linden to replace Mike Gillis. There are only 10 players on the roster from the team Benning inherited, but the Canucks still aren’t hard enough to play against. They are too accommodating, especially in the defensive zone. The eventual return of Brandon Sutter, whose value as an understated two-way player has doubled since he left the lineup Nov. 12, won’t solve these problems. The Canucks are better than their place in the standings, but only by a few points. Best-case scenario, they’re a 90-95 point team, but they’ve got ground to make up to get there after a dismal November. Their 9-9-8 record isn’t a crisis, just a stark market correction after all those 100-point seasons when not enough was done to refresh and replenish the lineup. “I think it’s a fair comment,” Benning said. “We got this older group … that they’ve had success with over the years. These guys are signed to (long-term) contracts and there was a stretch there, because they had good teams, maybe we didn’t develop players as we should have or draft as good as we should have. So we’ve had to keep some younger players to get them up and going and develop them into the next core group. “It is what it is. We have to develop the next group of core players and we want to be competitive. That’s what we’re trying to figure out.” http://www.vancouversun.com/touch/story.html?id=11561131 I know its been talked about a lot but I thought it was a good article with some pretty candid quotes from Benning. Glad he was just as disappointed as most of us were. Now the question is: what is he going to do about it? He's certainly got his work cut out for him. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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