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 Baker Creek tour from 2019 with a group of students - tours will be much smaller in 2020 due to COVID-19 prevention measures. (Submitted Photo)
Baker Creek Nature Explorers plans for full summer in Quesnel

The day program will run twice a week for two age groups

Environment Canada has issued a thunderstorm watch for the Cariboo north including Quesnel. (Black Press file image)
Environment Canada issues thunderstorm watch for Quesnel

A chance of thundershowers is forcasted to last until Tuesday

The Gold Pan Grannies attended the Quesnel Farmers’ Market where they sold perennials and vegetable plants and fruit trees by donation Saturday, May 29. They were able to raise $1,000 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Gold Pan Grannies raise $1,000 for Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign

Annual plant sale at Quesnel Farmers’ Market a success

Amy Vardy is one of four dancers to compete in their final year of the Quesnel Festival of the Performing Arts. (Submitted Photo)
Quesnel Festival of the Arts graduating dancer profile: Amy Vardy

The Quesnel Festival of the Performing arts is honouring their graduating dancers

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: Predictions of climate variability and effects on agriculture

Oliver Rujanschi, we will miss you and the warmth that you were. Sorry friend

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

The cannabis dispensary store, located at 1024 Clark Drive in East Vancouver. (Instagram/Budwayonclark)
Vancouver pot shop owner ordered to pay $40K for copying Subway

Store’s mascot is a red-eyed, cannabis-filled smoking sandwich

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Most Read