Canucks owner denies rumours, says he has "full confidence" in Benning

Feb 14 2021, 2:23 am

With rumours running rampant about big changes being around the corner if the Vancouver Canucks don’t turn things around quick, team owner Francesco Aquilini took to Twitter today.

Aquilini gave both GM Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green a vote of confidence, despite the team’s poor start. The Canucks owner said that while he’s “disappointed” by the team’s 6-11-0 record, “the last thing” he’s going to do is panic.

The Canucks have lost six games in a row — their longest losing streak since November 2018 — dropping each game by two or more goals. The season appears to be slipping away, given they’re already five games below .500 and have played more than 30% of their 56-game schedule.

While they’ve been better in their last two games, overall the Canucks have been woeful defensively, ranking second last in goals-against and shots-allowed this season. The heat has risen on Benning because of it, with the sarcastic hashtag #ThankYouJim trending on Twitter after Thursday’s loss.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Friday that “there’s a possibility of a change coming soon,” with regards to Benning. Later in the day, The Fourth Period reported that ownership was considering making a GM change, and “exploratory calls” had been made about a possible replacement.

“When the media starts pouring gas on the fire, dealing in rumours and misinformation as if it’s fact, it’s time for me to speak up,” Aquilini said today. “Contrary to what you may have read or heard, we’re sticking to the path we’re on.”

“I have full confidence in Jim, Travis, and this group. I have no plans to make changes.”

Here’s Aquilini’s full statement, delivered in a six-tweet thread:

Aquilini is preaching patience, and certainly he has shown lots with Benning since hiring him nearly seven years ago. The Canucks have made the postseason just twice in six seasons, and The Athletic’s playoff projection model now gives the Canucks just a 4% chance to qualify for the playoffs this year.

Benning has drafted well during his tenure, bringing the likes of Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, and Brock Boeser to Vancouver, but has struggled managing the salary cap. The Canucks had trouble making moves this offseason due to their precarious cap situation, and wound up losing Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev, and Tyler Toffoli, among others, in free agency.

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