Canucks fans turn on Jim Benning as GM fails to deliver trade deadline deals

Jim Benning had a tough day at the office, as Vancouver Canucks fans turned on their team's general manager.

The Vancouver Canucks failed to find trading partners for Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata

It's not easy being the general manager of a Canadian NHL team on trade deadline day. (The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward)

It is a day when NHL general managers are thrust into an even brighter spotlight, with the intensity and heat matched by the limitless expectations of NHL fans.

And the moment the league's trade deadline passes, and a moratorium on making trades sets in until summer, God help the GM who fails to make a deal.

Such is the fate of Jim Benning, Vancouver Canucks general manager, who committed the eternal sin of failing to trade Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata. Two players who — by the way — had no-trade clauses in their contract.

Sure, Hamhuis and Vrbata submitted lists of teams to where they would agree to be traded. In Vrbata's case, Benning made it clear those teams weren't seriously interested. 

As for Hamhuis, Benning made it clear the list was short, and there was serious interest from two teams — Chicago and Dallas. In the end, Dallas (a team whose owner was involved in a bitter legal dispute over the ownership of the Canucks) chose to make a deal for a defenceman from Calgary instead, and Chicago didn't offer enough.

And for that, Canucks fans wish to condemn Jim Benning to unemployment.

Canucks fans aren't alone in trade deadline overreactions. Remember the Muskoka five? In 2008, five high-profile Toronto Maple Leafs refused to waive no-trade clauses and rebuffed the efforts of interim general manager Cliff Fletcher to trade them.

Leafs fans soured on several of the players as a result. But in Vancouver, the backlash has been reserved for Benning.

And now the unenviable task of stemming the shrinking fan base and converting non-Vancouver fans to the Canucks rests with Benning. 

He offered what he could.

"We are excited about our young players. They are going to get a good opportunity from now until the end of the year."

Translation: please come and watch the remaining 11 games on our home schedule. Our young players will get a lot of ice time, and even if we lose, it should be exciting. 

Rebuilding a team while retaining star veteran players can be a difficult and frustrating exercise — just ask Leafs fans.

But this is the first year in 15 that the Canucks were viewed as bona fide sellers — a team looking to shed star veterans for youth. How quickly we forget. Isn't it a bit soon to #firebenning? 


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