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

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly says he has no intentions of leaving the Green Party. (House of Commons image)
Island Green MPs have “no intention” of leaving the party after ‘heartbreaking’ departure

Manly, May only remaining Green MPs after Jenica Atwin left for the Liberals over internal disputes

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Justine Keefer’s Cedar Elementary School Grade 6/7 class put together a student paper, as part of a school project. Pictured here Andrew Gregory, left, Felix Leduc, Addison Armstrong, Lucia Walker and Anise Dick. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Cedar Elementary School students create their own newspaper

Grade 6/7 class publishes Wolf Pack News as part of language arts and social studies

Évangeline Laforest and Oscar McClements’ invention La Méduse (the Jellyfish) removes oil from the ocean. The invention was one of 15 out of 700 inventions submitted to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Little Inventors contest. (Cole Schisler photo)
‘Little Inventors’ from Ladysmith showcased in national science challenge

Évangeline Laforest and Oscar McClements were one of 15 finalists in the Little Inventors Challenge

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read