Jim Benning believes in his players, at least – .

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Jim Benning believes in his players, at least – .


Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has not directly endorsed head coach Travis Green.

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Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning met the media on Thursday and said he continues to believe in his players, despite their struggles to date.

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But in a 20-minute exchange with reporters at Rogers Arena on Thursday morning, his first such session since before the start of the season, he avoided directly endorsing his head coach’s post, while saluting how hard Travis Green and his team worked.

Benning, who is in his eighth season at the helm of the Canucks, admitted there was nothing to hide from the team’s record. By no means did he expect his club to get just five wins in the first 17 games of the season. He said his team would be a playoff team.

And even with the climb ahead of them being very difficult – they’ll need at least 40 wins out of the remaining 65 games – he said he still enjoys his squad.

“I believe in this group, I think we still have enough veteran leaders to show (the younger players) the way and take the pressure off them a bit,” Benning said.

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The general manager, now in his eighth season at the helm, was asked a series of questions. He answered everyone, but whether he really answered all is up for debate. In essence, beyond believing his team need to play better, he had little answer as to why his team was struggling like this.

When asked if he thought his job was safe, he replied that it depended on the property. When asked if Green was, he did not respond directly.

“We watch everything. We are trying to find solutions to our problems and Travis and his team are working hard. Losing them eats away at us all. This is something I was not expecting after the moves we made this summer. But it’s happening and we have to deal with it, ”Benning said.

He said that as the media, his coaching staff and fans have all noted, they need their best players to be better.

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“Whether it’s working harder, winning more puck battles, going to the net harder, scoring rebounds, scoring goals… these are all things we need to do better to winning hockey games, ”he said. “Our special teams are hurting us. We have the staff that I believe to have a really good power play and for some reason we don’t play on the power play. And then our penalty kill, it really hurt us this year.

Benning believed his team were deeper than they were last season and cited the additions of Conor Garland, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Tucker Poolman as moves designed to give the team the depth the team lacked. exit of the 2020-21 season.

He did not rule out the possibility of an exchange, saying he spoke to the general managers of other teams. He also met with the owners on Tuesday, he admitted.

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“Obviously the property is not happy with the start we had and we talked about the problems we are having as a team and as a group and tried to give them solutions to our problems, how we’re going to figure this out and how we’re going to improve and how we’re supposed to be, ”Benning said.

When asked why owner Francesco Aquilini never speaks on behalf of the team, Benning replied that it was up to him, as general manager, to be the main spokesperson for the team. He said he heard chants calling for his dismissal at various times during Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

“It’s really upsetting because I think as a management team over the last seven plus years we’ve worked really hard to properly draft and develop our players properly,” he said. “It exhausts us all, from the property to the management team to the coaches… The fans are frustrated, I understand their frustration. We are frustrated.

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Benning said he was indeed concerned about Elias Pettersson’s struggles.

“It’s worrying, but we all know the type of player he’s capable of. And he’s coming out of a tough injury. He hasn’t played for a long time. I believe if he continues to work hard and compete hard on the puck, he’s going to regain his confidence, and I believe he’s always going to be the real good player that we all thought and saw he was during. over the past three years, ”he said.

Ultimately, the struggles of the team fall first and foremost to the CEO.

“I feel responsible. I’m the leader of this group, ”Benning said.

The playoffs remain the objective, even if it is uphill tobogganing.

“It’s going to be hard. It won’t be easy, ”he said. “We’re going to have to do a string of wins now to come back (the race). And like I said, I still believe in this group of players and we’re going to keep working hard to find solutions to our problems, and we still want to be a playoff team.

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VIRTANEN SURVEY: When asked about the status of the independent investigation into Jake Virtanen, Benning said he could not comment on what is an open police case.

“I will not comment on this until we find out more from the police,” he said.

That said, Postmedia News understands the investigation is over but is not considered closed in the event that new information is released. Vancouver police confirmed to Postmedia earlier this month that their investigation was continuing.

BAILEY ON WAIVERS: Winger Justin Bailey was waived Thursday, with plans to reassign him to Abbotsford. Green did not say if another roster change was imminent. Luke Schenn has skated the last few days but is still in the injured reserve.

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