For the last four months or so, it’s hard to find a Jim Benning move that wasn’t met with criticism.
It started in April when the Canucks signed Luca Sbisa and Derek Dorsett to hefty contract extensions and didn’t let up as the likes of Eddie Lack, Zack Kassian and Kevin Bieksa were traded.
Benning was even booed at an event for season ticket-holders when it was revealed that starting goalie Ryan Miller could’ve been traded instead of Lack, a fan favorite who’s not only younger and less expensive but had a higher save percentage than Miller last season.
Most recently, Benning’s claim that Brandon Sutter, acquired in a trade with Pittsburgh, would be a “foundation piece” for the Canucks was mocked by many. The five-year extension that Sutter proceeded to sign got the same treatment.
Suffice to say, the honeymoon is over for Vancouver’s general manager, who’s only been on the job since May of last year.
Benning, throughout it all, has not wavered.
“Sitting in my shoes, and when I talk to my management team, we have to make the decision that’s best for the organization going forward,” he said at the draft when asked about trading a fan favorite like Lack.
“I know if that’s the way we decide to go, I could get criticized. But that’s part of the job. There’s nothing I can do about that.”
Hired in large part for his experience as a scout, it won’t be entirely fair to judge Benning until his draft picks pan out, or don’t.
But there’s no doubt his recent moves have put him under increasing pressure. If Vancouver takes a step back next season — and many expect that to happen — that pressure will only build.