Sports

Report: Trevor Linden will name Jim Benning new Canucks GM this week

Trevor Linden, seen here with Vancouver Canucks chief owner Francesco Aquilini, is apparently imminently close to hiring Boston Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning as his team
Trevor Linden, seen here with Vancouver Canucks chief owner Francesco Aquilini, is apparently imminently close to hiring Boston Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning as his team's new general manager.
— image credit: The Canadian Press

Clear the chickens off the runway. It appears Trevor Linden hasn't just found his man, but is days – minutes, a sleep or two? – away from signing him.

The Vancouver Canucks will reportedly name Jim Benning their new general manager this week, replacing the just-fired Mike Gillis.

(TSN's Darren Dreger aired the report on Tuesday morning.)

Benning – who is the Boston Bruins' current assistant GM, backing up Peter Chiarelli – has been the front-runner for Vancouver's opening since Gillis was hacked in April. A former Canucks player, Benning was Linden's teammate in Vancouver for two seasons, in 1989 and 1990.

Post-playing career, Benning has worked as a scout – for one year with the Anaheim Ducks in the team's first NHL season, 1993-94, and then with the Buffalo Sabres from '94 to 2004.

He has been the Bruins' assistant GM from 2006 until now.

He is considered a front-end talent evaluator, which is an area many feel the Canucks have been less-than-average at since their run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011. Although they won the Presidents' Trophy in 2012, the Canucks' scoring has dropped considerably since their greatest-ever season and the club's drafting record has been largely impotent since they took Ryan Kesler and Cory Schneider, back-to-back between 2003 and 2004.

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While Linden said he had talked to a number of different suitors for the job Benning now apparently has, the Bruins' exec was also reportedly considered for the same job with the Washington Capitals and (since last Friday) the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Capitals and Penguins both fired their GMs since the seasons' ends – George McPhee was dismissed from Washington and the Pens canned Ray Shero last week.

Rumours still swirl in Washington surrounding Wayne Gretzky as the team's new president, with GM options so far including Doug MacLean, Craig Button, or even Mike Gillis. (But, of course, it's all speculation... until they sign.)

If Benning is indeed about to ink a deal with Vancouver, Linden's focus now turns to finding a new head coach to replace the departed John Tortorella, who was shown the door not long after Gillis was, on May 1.

Barry Trotz's name has come up often in regards to coaching considerations. Trotz spent the past decade-plus with the Nashville Predators and is seen as a players' coach, one who has gotten the most out of the roster he was given. His personality is, perhaps, one in stark contrast with Tortorella's.

But questions about Trotz are normally stamped by the Preds' playoff results, or lack thereof – especially when they had strong teams from 2007 through 2012.

Nashville made it out of the first round only twice in that span, in 2011 and 2012. They lost to the Vancouver Canucks and the Phoenix Coyotes, respectively.

Todd McLellan and Dan Bylsma have both been mentioned as possibles for the Vancouver job, but each head coach is still tenured (McLellan with San Jose and Bylsma with Pittsburgh) despite a string of recent playoff disappointments and the belief that one or both of them would be let go this summer.

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