By: Brayden Fengler / December 8, 2021
Nothing too crazy, just a super casual complete regime change, with both General Manager Jim Benning and Head Coach Travis Green being kicked to the curb. No biggy, this kind of thing happens all the time, or once every 8 years I guess.
These terminations come only just 6 months and 25 games after Green signed his two-year contract extension. The news also comes, not even a full year since this tweet by Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini.
It’s obvious though why these changes had to be made, in what seems like such a short amount of time since indications of complete support by owenership.
This season was clearly going so much worse than anyone in the organization had seemed to plan for. So here we sit, the Canucks have ousted a coach that many fans had rapidly begun to turn against, as well as a GM that had his name on the tongue of seemingly every fan in Rogers Arena night after night, and not in any type of good way of course.
The Canucks now stand with both one foot in the dawn of a new era and one foot in the shambles of another era, that’s consequences are still far from being over. There is work to be done, it’s all hands on deck right now and there are two Canucks that are about to be called to help steer this ship, more than they have been in recent months. We’re talking about Hank and Danny.
What Have 22 and 33 Actually Been up To?
Last week, prior to the whirlwind of changes that were bestowed upon this organization from on high, I kept trying to shake this reoccurring thought that I had stuck in my head.
During these last few weeks, when fans had seemed to be growing a disinterest in listening to Travis Green night after night, and maintaining a disinterest in listening to Jim Benning when he did make himself available, I kept wondering, where are the Sedins?
This is not to imply that they have been doing nothing, far from it, but since they were brought on as Special Advisors to the General Manager last summer, I couldn’t help but wonder if they had actually been given the chance to do any actual advising, especially over these last few weeks.
Obviously it goes without saying that both Henrik and Daniel are still rookies at this whole “front office” thing, and are still very much learning the ropes of the intricacies involved in running an NHL organization. That being said, if there was ever a time for Benning to request two cents from two of the most respected Canucks that have ever existed, it may have been over the last few weeks.
If the Sedins actually did get a chance to do some of that “special advising” they were hired to do, it was done in a very closed door environment. Last week I reached out to a handful of people who have their fingers much closer to the pulse of this team than I do, and I got the same info from all of them.
The Sedins at the time were still primarily looking after the baby Canucks, and getting a sense of the inner workings of the organization from the ground up. If the Sedins had been chewing Benning’s ear off during any recent time, it was not something that was known by anyone who I spoke with, and typically at least one of these people would’ve had an inkling if something like that was going on.
More to Come From the Sedins
Well now that the GM that the Sedins were originally hired to “advise” is gone, along with the coach that formerly coached them, the Sedins role in the organization is also likely to shift.
It would’ve been unfair to role the Sedin’s out to the media to represent the main club during the time of turmoil that just passed. The Sedins are still new hires inside the organization, who have been in a note-taking, sponge-like role to this point. Out of all front office suits, the Sedins are the least liable for the clubs shortcomings to this point in the season.
Now though, The Sedins have no choice but to be pushed into a larger role within the organization. The Twins have only been in their roles for half a year, and most of that time has been during the off season. However, these aren’t just two identical empty suits just picked by old hockey men to fill a vacancy.
They are THE Sedin twins, and whether they’re located behind a bench or a desk, there’s no denying that their general demeanors, and willingness to learn sets them up for success in anything they do. Now it’s time for them to take a bigger seat at the table, even if it is earlier than they anticipated.
These Moves Had to Be Made
From the outset the Sedins wanted to make sure that their appointment was “Not a PR move”, although for good or for ill that term was certainly being used to some degree as the news of their hiring was breaking.
One school of thought was that by bringing in the Sedins, this would allow Francesco Aquilini to slowly phase Benning out. This would be done by Benning showing these kids the ropes and then *boom!* one day Bennings key card can’t get him into the building and his nicknacks and potted plants are in a box out back.
I truly don’t believe that was ever the intention though, I feel as though the Sedins appointment was an attempt to build good will and optimism over the summer, following a disappointing season.
The idea was likely that once Jim’s new plan was brought to life in the fall, all the pitchforks would be neatly put into self storage, and all would be well for Aquilini and Co. However, of course we know now that the pitchforks were very much not stored away for the season, and up until Sunday night the fans pretty much had never held them higher.
Aquilini was forced to do something this past week that he probably really did not want to do heading into this season. Jim has always been criticized as being a “yes man” to Franky, and say what you will about Jim’s character, but that is a good way to stay employed. It was also a characteristic that from Francesco’s perspective, he likely feared would be hard to replace in a new GM.
This last paragraph is all conjecture of course, but the basis of the conjecture likely sounds unsurprising to anyone that has observed this front office over the past eight years.
What We Could See From the Sedins
Now though the Sedins have an opportunity that at the time of hiring them was probably not thought to arise this quickly. They are going to be among key leadership for the Canucks, in the interim before there is a new GM or even a President of Hockey Operations.
What I would like to see out of the Sedins and what I hope is the case moving forward, is that they become increasingly distanced from what they were regularly overseeing in Abbotsford, and transition 90% of their focus to Rogers Arena. Their involvement in building up the Canucks’ new AHL team has likely been mutually beneficial for the Sedins and the young club.
However, now that Abbotsford is off the ground, it’s time that the majority of the Twins attention is directed to the big club.
The Sedins have had more than half a year to get the feel for what’s involved in running an NHL team from a management perspective. They have a built-in understanding of the intricacies of the game from their playing days, and although they likely shouldn’t be pulling all the strings for the Canucks just yet, they should have their hands on a few more items as the weeks and months tick on.
The Long Term Future for the Sedins
Do I want to see the Sedins become Co GMs? Maybe, maybe one day, but not right now, that I am sure of. Maybe this organization doesn’t always have to build their key members from the ground up.
Maybe this time they can find someone with built-in experience as a General Manager, and someone that has as much of a backbone as Franky can handle. The organization built Green up from an AHL coach to an NHL coach, yet now with Bruce Boudreau, they’ve decided to go the experienced route. Maybe it’s also a good idea to do the same with the GM.
Let the Sedin’s do what they came here to do, advise the GM, advise the new and experienced GM that this team hopefully hires. Have them guide that person whoever they may be, on what it means to be a Canuck, but let that experienced GM do their job.
That is the role that the Sedins should be playing for the foreseeable future. It will be good for them to get a chance to learn from someone other than Benning, if they ever do want to take the leap to becoming GM’s themselves, but now is not the time for that leap.
The Canucks should keep the Twins focused on Rogers Arena and utilize that as much as possible. Put them in the dressing room more often to speak with the players when things aren’t trending up, put them in front of the media when the temperature isn’t too hot, start ringing out their sponges a bit, transition them from just learning, to a little bit of executing too. That is the way to develop them into GM caliber assets at some point down the line.
This team should try hard not just use these two brilliant minds as PR pieces, and only role them in front of the media when it’s convenient. That’s not what they wanted, and they can be way more valuable than that. Henrik and Daniel need to be used for what they’re worth, and what they’re worth is a lot to this City.