Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Doug Wilson moves the goalposts on Jim Benning, scuttles the Kevin Bieksa trade.

Ian MacIntyre autopsies the failed Kevin Bieksa trade with San Jose on TSN 1040, and says the stumbling block is that Sharks GM Doug Wilson “moved the goalposts” on Jim Benning, and wanted the 2nd-round pick he gave in return to be a 2016 pick. Mr. MacIntyre says that’s extremely poor form, and not a common mistake that happens often, just normal confusion in the heat of the action. On the draft floor, when you’re batting around the idea of swapping picks, it’s understood to be that they’re for the current draft, unless you specify a future pick.

There’s some faint corroboration for this, in that during the second round, a talking head reported that Doug Wilson didn’t want to part with his second rounder, the GM “needed it” to acquire Jérémy Roy, and sure enough he traded up for the 31st pick and got the Sherbrooke defenceman as the first player drafted in the second round. Which is neither here nor there, it’s actually more accurate to say that he wanted to keep it so as to move up, blah blah blah.

I know there are lots of unwritten rules and codes in hockey, maybe this is one where Doug Wilson broke the code, reneged on his word, but I always kind of think that until you ‘fax it in’ and the NHL makes it official, it’s not official, it’s not a trade. Maybe the contract extension was taking a while to figure out with the agent, maybe Jim Benning hadn’t quite shook on it yet, and meanwhile, Jérémy Roy kept falling, and falling…

Anyway, he reports that the Canucks management were furious, they were left out to dry. Kevin Bieksa was negotiating a new deal, had gone house-hunting in San Jose, thought he was gone, and now isn’t. Not great.

One of the differences between Marc Bergevin and Jim Benning is that while our GM is approachable, affable, and can be quotable, he’s remarkably unwilling to discuss much. If it’s official, if a deal has been made, he’ll inform the media and discuss the matter, but otherwise you can’t get anything out of him. Which is good, there are seldom any leaks from the New Forum.

Jim Benning isn’t polished when speaking, not as entertaining as his counterpart in Montréal, he’s kind of rough around the edges, but he’s remarkably candid with the media.  He’ll get into hypothetical scenarios, divulge his intentions, etc. I was taken aback, pleasantly so, when he told the press flat out that he was trading Eddie Lack, not Jacob Markstrom, and that he was confident he’d get a “fairly high pick” in return. I thought it was refreshing to see a GM not bend over backwards to pretend, to deny what everyone can see is shaping up.

And that’s where he got into trouble, and why the mood is so foul with Canucks fans now. Jim Benning set up expectations of a Kevin Bieksa trade and an extra second-rounder for his popular goalie, and neither deal came about.

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