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

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Curl B.C. chairperson Teri Palynchuk is this year’s winner of the Janette Robbins Award for leadership. Palynchuk is pictured here with the Curling Canada Foundation Cup along with past chairperson Peter Muir, left, and Curl B.C. CEO Scott Braley. (Photo courtesy Curl B.C.)
Nanaimo curling exec wins Curl B.C. leadership award

Teri Palynchuk receives Janette Robbins Award

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

Nanaimo author B.S. Thompson has released his debut novel, ‘The Book of Nodd.’ (Photo courtesy Nora Funk)
Nanaimo author invites readers into dangerous world of dreams in debut novel

B.S. Thompson unveils ‘The Book of Nodd’ with online launch June 20

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

There is an emergency shelter near the Golden Ears peaks. (Facebook/Special to The News)
Hiker fogged in on Golden Ears, spends 2 nights

Talon Helicopters, Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue bring him home Monday

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Island man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-week-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre estimates that less than five per cent of mass-marketing fraud is ever reported.
Tips to avoid scams targeting Vancouver Island seniors

In most cases, fraudsters impersonate an individual, business or agency seniors recognize and trust

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

Most Read