- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- With Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning set to be named the new general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, his absence will leave a void in Boston’s hockey operations staff.
Benning, 51, has been critical to the Bruins’ success during his eight years in the organization. He spent the past seven years as the assistant general manager and was an integral part of the team’s Stanley Cup success in 2011. He's helped general manager Peter Chiarelli build a perennial Cup contender in Boston.
One of Chiarelli’s confidants, Benning, along with fellow assistant GM Don Sweeney, has spent his entire life in the game and is known for his hockey knowledge and ability to scout, draft and help develop talent.
Under Chiarelli’s guidance and with input from Benning, the Bruins have drafted the likes of defenseman Dougie Hamilton, goaltender Malcolm Subban and forwards Tyler Seguin, Jordan Caron, Ryan Spooner and Justin Florek. With the exception of Subban, who remains in Providence of the AHL, all have made separate contributions to the Bruins’ success.
Benning was also part of the hockey operations staff that helped Chiarelli decide to trade Seguin, who was the team’s first-round pick (second overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, to the Dallas Stars on July 4, 2013. Collectively, Chiarelli’s staff agreed the talented forward did not fit the Bruins’ philosophy and culture and a change was needed.
It wasn’t a surprise when that the Buffalo Sabres wanted to interview Benning for the GM job when they cleaned house during the middle of this season. Prior to his arrival in Boston, Benning spent 12 seasons in the Sabres organization, including eight as the team’s director of amateur scouting. Bruins team president Cam Neely and Chiarelli gave Benning permission to interview for that position with Buffalo. Eventually, the Sabres hired Tim Murray for the GM position.
Benning is regarded around the league as a top hockey mind, and if given the necessary resources in Vancouver, he will be able to clean up the Canucks, a team he played for during his career.
With Benning leaving Boston, Chiarelli has plenty of qualified internal candidates to replace Benning. Current director of player personnel, Scott Bradley, has spent 21 seasons with the Bruins. He’s held his current post for the last five years. Bradley spent 11 seasons as the organization’s director of amateur scouting.
8dJoe McDonald and Kyle Brasseur
44dKyle Brasseur, Special to ESPNBoston.com