Popular Post Ilya Mikheyev Posted November 17, 2021 Popular Post Share Posted November 17, 2021 Partial excerpts: Quote ...It’s time to move on. It’s time to break up. Honestly, it’s been time. For a while now. That’s something that many outside Vancouver could see for the majority of Benning’s tenure and each year it seems like a growing contingent in Vancouver sees it too. It’s extremely difficult not to. But when you’re so close to it with a heavy emotional investment it’s understandable to turn a blind eye toward it. It’s the hope that kills you and if there’s one thing the Canucks’ front office is good at it, it’s selling hope. Almost every season under Benning has ended in disappointment and every following offseason has brought about aggressive changes to make sure that’s not the case next year. Then the cycle continues and it’s hard to fathom why it’s even been allowed to continue for so long. Eight seasons and counting where he’s been given chance after chance. This time it’ll be different. This time things will change. It never is and it doesn’t help that the root issue isn’t being addressed: the man in charge who has had enough chances to turn this ship around. Every offseason brings about change, sure, but a shockingly high percentage of those looked incredibly misguided from the get-go. That’s on Benning for both not knowing what he had in front of him and generally not knowing what he was acquiring either. It all stems from poor player evaluation creating an incredible combination of bringing in the right players at the wrong time (J.T. Miller, Conor Garland), the wrong players at the right time (Braden Holtby), and my personal favourite, the wrong players at the wrong time (Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, Brandon Sutter, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Tyler Myers, Erik Gudbranson, Tucker Poolman, Travis Hamonic). Sometimes there are moves that don’t pan out that might’ve been harder to predict at the time (Loui Player Name — who was signed for too long but great for Boston prior, Nate Schmidt — whose deal was bad but played tough minutes on a contender). That’s not the case for a plethora of Benning’s moves that never needed any hindsight though. They were, at best, puzzling for a team nowhere close to contention and, at worst, downright awful for a team that shouldn’t have been burning cap space so frivolously. The two best players Benning acquired were done so by way of trading away first-round picks in the aftermath of a season spent in the bottom 10. It’s an irresponsible lack of patience that shows the front office’s lack of vision towards building a sustainable contender. They were stop-gap solutions to speed up the process for a team nowhere close to being a consistent winner, a way for Benning to selfishly save his own job because the rebuilding process was taking longer than expected. They were shortcuts, ones the team will have to pay for because they didn’t put in the work to do it right the first time. And those were the “good” moves, or at least the ones where the team acquired good players. The rest is a walk down mistake mile, with bad contracts lining either side of the road. They were awful contracts that Benning willingly signed or took on, severely hampering the team’s cap flexibility in both the short and long term for almost no gain whatsoever. It’s bad enough that Benning misjudged his own team in timing all these deals. But it’s even worse that a majority of the players he targeted had a low likelihood of actually helping the team to begin with. Several of the players were below replacement level players from the get-go, even the very best only marginally moved the needle and all of them were grossly overpaid for their services. There were times where roughly a third of the cap was dead money spent on players who don’t add much of any on-ice value. Some actively hurt the team. It’s difficult to build a winner under those circumstances. Benning made the job harder than it ever had to be by way of his own inability to judge player value. That’s been a common theme at every turn, one he’s failed to learn from year after year. The telltale sign of a toxic relationship is an unwilling lack of growth. In order to believe someone will change they have to show a capacity for it. Benning hasn’t. For a man who has made countless obvious mistakes through his time as general manager, you’d think he would learn from some of them. Acquiring Ekman-Larsson (who to his credit has started fine, but still has six years left on a terrible contract) after signing Myers after trading for Gudbranson highlights how defensemen evaluation remains a weak point in Vancouver’s front office. Signing Poolman to an inexplicable four-year deal is the cherry on top of that. Trading another first away this past summer shows a continued lack of patience as well as the prioritization of results over process. Every summer is the exact same thing. New toys, new hope, new hype — but it’s the same bad team. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Canucks once again look like a bad team because that’s what they usually are. This isn’t a team that’s been built the right way and it shows. It’s also been something that’s been obvious prior to every season, only for any negative press to be met by derision from fans being gaslit by their own team promising that this time it will be different... ... The surprise has never been that the Canucks aren’t good enough, the surprise was the one season they were: 2019-20. That’s the outlier, and it’s the key to the toxic cycle. That season, which famously wasn’t weird in any way whatsoever, was one where a young team led by a strong core drafted by Benning showed actual promise. Not only did they make the playoffs, but they won a qualifying round date against the Wild, beat the defending champion Blues in the first round, and almost shocked Vegas in the second round by taking the Golden Knights to seven games. The results were hard to ignore, and those were results Benning delivered. It probably felt natural that this season was a sign of things to come, that the Canucks were a team on the rise. It might just have been the worst thing to happen to this current version of the franchise. It made many believe in a team not worth believing in yet, built by a GM who was now learning the wrong lessons who had now earned a vote of confidence he didn’t really deserve. There were plenty of red flags during that shocking run worth paying attention to — like only earning 42 percent of the expected goals during 17 playoff games, for example — that should’ve illuminated the Canucks weren’t actually ready for primetime yet. But red flags are easy to ignore when you’re in the middle of it all, seeing what you want to see. In this case, the Canucks were a perfect partner for a month. They were everything fans and management were hoping they’d be for so long. The good times were here, the potential has been lived up to and it was worth waiting for after all. It didn’t matter if deep down there were still some issues that needed to be addressed, because on the surface everything finally looked good. That’s something that ownership and some fans have likely clung to, a hopeful return to those good times. When you see the potential realized with your very eyes, there’s a tendency to fantasize about a world where that’s the consistent reality. That’s not often the case, as those underlying issues will bubble back up to the surface and bring everything back to square one, restarting the cycle. Now, there’s a sunk cost attached to it all where there’s been so much time and effort invested that it feels like it needs to be seen through to the bitter end. That it’s too late to make a change now. That cycle needs to be broken and it’s never too late to do that. For the sake of a young core that deserves better and a fan base that’s starved for something greater, there needs to be a change. It’s clear this isn’t working. It’s been clear for years to many outside observers and it’s becoming more and more clear to those who care most. The blame isn’t sorely on Benning as coach Travis Green isn’t getting the most out of the lineup he’s been given. That much is obvious given the team’s pace is well short of even the most conservative estimates of the team’s ability. But I mean, the lineup he’s been given is also not a very good one. A lot of blame squarely falls on the architect in charge of it all. Green has been given crayons and asked to paint a masterpiece. He shares some blame in this children’s refrigerator art of a team. But, with the right tools, it’s possible he could’ve crafted something better. That’s on Benning. The only ones who don’t seem to see it are sadly the ones who need to see it most: the ones cutting Benning’s cheques who suddenly believe that now is the time for patience. This isn’t an issue of a 16-game stretch to start the season, one where the Canucks are in fact likely to turn things around. They aren’t this bad. But they also aren’t very good either and that’s part of the reason why a start like this wasn’t so far-fetched in the first place. This isn’t about 16 games when this is the eighth season under Benning and there’s still next to no progress towards turning this team into a Stanley Cup champion. Right now this team isn’t even in the same stratosphere as a Cup contender — they’re not even a true playoff team, one that can be counted on to make it year-in and year-out. They haven’t been that in a long time, since the start of Benning’s tenure when he inherited the team from a much more capable manager. It shouldn’t be taking this long for the team to get back to that level and it shouldn’t be difficult to see that Benning isn’t the man to take this team there. Almost everyone but Canucks ownership can see it and that’s the sad reality of a toxic relationship. No matter how bad it gets, no matter how bad it often is, it doesn’t matter if it’s someone else telling you so. It’s a realization the team needs to reach on their own. There’s often this sad urge to push through and prove everyone else wrong — that it can work because it has worked before, even if it didn’t actually last. Vancouver needs to move past that. Full article: https://theathletic.com/2961131/2021/11/17/luszczyszyn-it-is-time-for-the-vancouver-canucks-to-break-up-with-jim-benning/ 7 1 3 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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