<span class="vcard">Jason Brough</span>

Benning upset that Canucks lost ‘pack mentality’ versus Ducks

Since Jim Benning was recruited out of the Bruins’ organization and named Canucks general manager, the following things have happened:

Derek Dorsett was acquired in a trade with the Rangers and signed to a four-year extension.
Luca Sbisa was acquired in a trade with the Ducks and signed to a three-year extension.
— Bruising winger Jake Virtanen was drafted sixth overall, ahead of smaller — but arguably more talented — forwards like William Nylander and Nikolaj Ehlers.
Brandon Prust was acquired in a trade with the Canadiens.

The common denominator? Toughness. Benning felt the Canucks needed more of it. He won a Stanley Cup in Boston with a big, bad team. Beat the Canucks in the final, actually.

Remember that series? Brad Marchand punched Daniel Sedin in the face a few times. Marchand was asked why he did it. “Because I felt like it,” he said.

That answer still stings in Vancouver.

So, what did Benning think when the Canucks were pushed around by the Ducks the other night?

“That Anaheim game was the most disappointing loss for me since I’ve been here,” Benning told the Vancouver Sun.

“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.”

Benning clearly believes in the “pack mentality” philosophy. When the Sbisa and Dorsett extensions were announced in April, here’s what he said:

“Over the course of the year … where in scrums and stuff, there’d be one guy and he’d have to figure it out. But about halfway through the year, we stuck together as a team and that was everybody in the scrums sticking up for one another. And I think a big part of that goes to Derek and Luca for instilling that mindset among our group.”

The Canucks are back in action tonight against the Dallas Stars.

About this reported deal that’s going to keep the Panthers in South Florida

New Year's Eve
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From the Sun Sentinel:

The Florida Panthers hockey team’s future in South Florida could be determined Tuesday. The Broward County Commission is expected to vote that day on whether to give the team an $86 million bailout in public funds.

Broward Mayor Marty Kiar said the proposal will be on the Tuesday meeting agenda.

The major financial details of the deal are in the story, so you can click on the link for those.

If there’s a key aspect of the proposed contract, it might be the one that, according to the newspaper, requires the Panthers to provide “an irrevocable letter of credit to protect the county’s financial investment if the team defaults, files bankruptcy or relocates.”

It’ll be interesting to read the small print there, because the big question in all these deals is — If they wanted to, how could they get out of it?

Case in point, in 2009, Jerry Moyes attempted to use bankruptcy to get the Coyotes out of their long-term lease with Glendale. That way, Jim Balsillie could move the team to Canada. At least, that was the plan. It didn’t quite work out that way, but you can bet Broward County was determined to protect itself from a similar situation.

Another key detail? And actually, this might be more key than the previous one. The newspaper reports that the Panthers will have the option to get out of the deal after eight years:

They’d have to give a year’s notice, show losses of $100 million over seven years, and pay a termination amount. For example, if the Panthers leave in year 8, they’d pay back the full $72 million the county would have given them by then. The termination penalty decreases each year thereafter but leaves the county with enough money to pay off the debt.

So while this reported deal may provide the Panthers with some stability over the next few years, it won’t completely stop the relocation buzzards from circling.

Goalie nods: Sparks meets Hellebuyck, with perfect records on the line

Garret Sparks ; Dion Phaneuf ; Roman Polak; James van Riemsdyk
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OK, they’ve only played one game each. But still, undefeated is undefeated. And how else are we going to hype a Leafs-Jets game in Winnipeg? We gotta Don King this thing up a bit.

Garret Sparks, of course, shut out the Oilers on Monday. It was the first time a Maple Leafs netminder had ever registered a shutout in his NHL debut.

Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck also won his NHL debut, though he had the audacity to allow a goal in a 3-1 win over Minnesota on Friday.

Tonight’s game is sponsored by Tecate.

Elsewhere…

Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers. Jaroslav Halak for the Isles.

Tuukka Rask likely for the Bruins. Anders Nilsson for the Oilers.

Ben Bishop likely for the Lightning. John Gibson for the Ducks.

Brandon Sutter has sports-hernia surgery, out 4-6 weeks

Brandon Sutter, Patrick Sharp
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Well, put it this way — any chance the Vancouver Canucks were going to send Jared McCann to the World Juniors just flew out the window.

The Canucks announced this morning that center Brandon Sutter underwent surgery yesterday to repair a sports hernia.

“Following a period of treatment and evaluation our medical team determined that the best course of action for Brandon was to perform this procedure,” said GM Jim Benning. “The surgery was successful and we expect a full recovery.”

Sutter is expected to miss 4-6 weeks to recover. He hasn’t played since Nov. 10. The Canucks have gone 2-5-3 without him, and they’ve given up 11 power-play goals in those 10 games.

Suffice to say, Sutter’s absence will be an ongoing challenge for Vancouver’s young centers. McCann is only 19; Bo Horvat is just 20.

Related: ‘You’ve got to remember, Bo’s 20’

The Red Wings sure go to overtime a lot

Justin Abdelkader
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The Red Wings have played some close games lately.

And that’s putting it mildly.

In their last eight games, the Wings have gone to overtime seven times. The only one that finished in regulation during that stretch was a 3-2 win over the Kings.

Last night, Detroit won 5-4 in a shootout over Buffalo. Justin Abdelkader scored with less than seven minutes remaining to send it to extra time — the 10th time this season that the Wings have needed it.

“It’s nice to win one in overtime,” said Abdelkader, per CBS Detroit. “A few too many games in overtime of late, but we’ll take the points.”

Last night’s victory improved the Wings’ record to 13-8-4, good for second place in the Atlantic Division.

If there’s reason for concern — or, at the very least motivation to play better — it’s that they’ve only won seven times in regulation all season. Only six teams have fewer regulation wins than that, and none of those six are in a playoff position. Montreal has the most regulation wins with 17.

But hey, wins are wins. They’re all worth two points.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver…