The Canucks are giving Green a vote of confidence with a multi-year contract after a tough season on the ice that saw the NHL club sidelined by a COVID-19 outbreak and finish last in the North Division with a 23-29-4 record. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The Canucks are giving Green a vote of confidence with a multi-year contract after a tough season on the ice that saw the NHL club sidelined by a COVID-19 outbreak and finish last in the North Division with a 23-29-4 record. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vancouver Canucks to be ‘aggressive’ in free agency, trades this off-season: GM

Jim Benning says the team is willing to take big steps in order to get back to the playoffs

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning expects to be busy this summer.

After a tumultuous year that saw the team weather a COVID-19 outbreak, a spate of injuries and multiple losing skids, the Canucks are willing to take big steps in order to get back to the playoffs, he said.

Vancouver finished the 2021 campaign last in the all-Canadian North Division with a 23-29-4 record, and missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six years.

“We own this season. It didn’t go the way we wanted it to. I can understand how people would be frustrated with the year,” Benning told reporters on Friday. “Our group needs to evaluate, we need to make changes.”

The GM and his colleagues face a long to-do list heading into the off-season.

Entry-level deals for young stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes are set to expire. A number of veterans, including defenceman Alex Edler and depth forward Brandon Sutter, are about to become unrestricted free agents. An expansion draft is set to take place in a matter of weeks.

“We have lots of work to do,” Benning said. “I’m not going to sit here and say it’s going to be an easy summer. We’ve got lots of work to do and we’ve already started in on all that work.”

The Canucks took care of one piece of business earlier on Friday, signing head coach Travis Green to a two-year contract extension.

Negotiations got down to the wire, Green said.

“Ultimately I wanted to be here. I’m just thankful that we did get it done,” he said.

“I wouldn’t have signed back here if I didn’t believe in what we’re doing and what we’re capable of doing and where we’re going. I want to win and that’s why I signed back here.”

Uncertainty over his future was just one obstacle Green faced this season. He was also one of 25 people — 21 players and four coaches — who tested positive for COVID-19 when an outbreak swept through the locker room in late March. Several loved ones, including wives and children, also fell ill.

The Canucks had multiple games delayed and didn’t play for more than three weeks. The team returned to an unrelenting schedule that saw it play 19 games in 32 days, including five sets of back-to-backs. Several players suffered season-ending injuries over the stretch.

“There’s no hiding — it was a different season, a hard season at times. But sometimes, hard things, you go through them and you look back and you grow from hard times as well,” Green said.

“You learn a lot when you win, when you have success, when things are going well in your life. But you also learn a lot when you’re going through tough times as well.”

Green, 50, has been the Canucks’ head coach since 2017 and has shepherded several of Vancouver’s top players through the early years of their careers.

Ensuring Green would continue behind the bench was an important priority for the team, Benning said.

“All these young players we have on the team, they started out under Travis. He has close relationships with them. They like him, they trust him,” he said. “I see Travis continuing to grow with the young group we have.”

Those young players are the core of the Canucks, Benning said, and the priority this off-season is getting two of them — Pettersson and Hughes — signed to new deals.

Vancouver signed another emerging star, 25-year-old goalie Thatcher Demko, to a five-year, US$25-million extension in April.

“We need to build around these guys,” Benning said. “These are important pieces, core pieces that you need to win but they need continued support throughout the lineup to get to where we want to get to.”

The Canucks need to add speed, depth scoring and veteran leadership this summer, and will do so through trades, free agency and buyouts, Benning said.

“We’re going to be aggressive on the trade front, in free agency,” he said.

“Ownership has given us the resources to do whatever we need to do to get back to be where we want to be next season and that’s a playoff team.”

Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini posted his letter to season ticket holders on Twitter Friday, saying he’s spent “considerable time” reviewing the team and the business.

Aquilini said he’s disappointed in the results from the 2021 season, but many factors were out of the organization’s control.

The Canucks’ future is still bright, he said.

“I know I’ve been saying that for a while now, but progress doesn’t always follow a straight line,” Aquilini said. “Believe me, I’m as impatient as you are to see the Canucks return to top-tier status. Yes, it’s been a long time. But the darkest hour is just before dawn.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Canucksvancouver canucks

Just Posted

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

..
Four Paws Food Bank-Barriere helps area pet owners

Leia Kett (as in Star War’s Princess Leia) has been a Barriere… Continue reading

Barriere resident Donna Genier was happy to be able to gather with a small group of family and close friends to play a game of scrub last Sunday at the Barriere ball fields in memory of her youngest son Kurt Genier. Kurt passed unexpectedly in 2014 Since then, starting in 2015 an annual Memorial Slow Pitch Baseball Tournament has been held in Barriere to remember the young man who loved to play baseball. Unfortunately, the tourney had to be cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. (Elli Kohnert photo)
Kurt Genier remembered with ball game in Barriere

The annual Kurt Genier Memorial Slow Pitch Ball Tournament was not able… Continue reading

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

logo
Evacuation alert issued for residents south of Lytton

The TNRD Emergency Operations Centre in Kamloops says a wildfire in the area poses a threat to structures and residents.

Most Read