The Vancouver Canucks made Friday afternoon’s news official on Tuesday, announcing that Jim Benning has been signed to a three-year contract extension as the team’s general manager.
Benning, whose current deal was set to expire next year, is now under contract until the end of the 2022-23 season.
“It’s great that Jim has agreed to continue his work as General Manager,” said Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini. “His experience, relationships, and hockey knowledge are invaluable. We’re committed to building a winning team and getting back among the NHL elite for the long term. There are no shortcuts, but we’ve embarked on a path to get there, and I have confidence in Jim’s ability to see it through.”
The move is a polarizing one for Canucks fans, who seem divided on their opinion of the man who has sat in the GM’s chair since May 21, 2014.
Though his job may still be on the line — the NHL is a results-oriented business after all — this is clearly a vote of confidence from Aquilini, who has shown remarkable patience with Benning thus far.
Benning is the 11th-longest tenured GM in the league, despite the fact his team hasn’t made the playoffs in four years. But he did find Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser in the draft, which is giving the Canucks owner hope for the future.
He shared that optimism in a letter to season ticket members on Tuesday, telling fans that Benning and his management group “have been working diligently and wisely to lay the foundations of an elite team, built to win consistently over the long term,” before adding that “last season felt like the start of something special.”
Here’s the full letter:
First of all, thank you for your support of the Canucks. We appreciate the commitment you’ve made by renewing with us. As a Season Ticket Member, you are an important part of our franchise and its success.
I’m pleased to officially confirm the news that we’ve agreed to terms with Jim Benning on a three-year contract extension. He’ll continue to lead our Hockey Operations group as General Manager.
Jim and his staff have been working diligently and wisely to lay the foundations of an elite team, built to win consistently over the long term. Last year we got to enjoy Elias Pettersson’s Calder-winning performance, Brock Boeser’s continuing development, Quinn Hughes’ impressive debut, Jacob Markstrom’s maturation as an NHL goaltender, and Bo Horvat’s emergence as a confident leader.
Our exciting young players can only continue improving as they benefit from the experience and talent of our newest players, including J.T. Miller, Tyler Myers, Jordie Benn and Micheal Ferland. We also have players developing in our minor-league system, and Jim and his group once again added prospects with huge potential at the NHL Draft in June.
Last season felt like the start of something special. Under the leadership of Jim and Travis, this year’s team is ready to build on last year’s progress. It will take time to achieve our long-term goals, but we’re headed in the right direction.
In 2019.20 we will celebrate our 50th NHL season. Henrik and Daniel Sedin’s jerseys will be retired to the rafters in Rogers Arena, and Alex Burrows will be inducted to the Ring of Honour. The half-century history of our team—the players, traditions, and unforgettable moments—will be honoured throughout the season as we watch this new generation of Canucks begin to make history of their own.
I was a Canucks fan long before I became an owner, and I haven’t looked forward to opening night with such anticipation in a long time. It’s going to be an exciting season. We can’t wait to share it with you!