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Report: Jim Benning and Travis Green out, Bruce Boudreau in as Canucks head coach

The Canucks have also reportedly let assistant GM John Weisbrod and assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner go.
bruce boudreau stacy bengs cp
Bruce Boudreau, reportedly hired by the Vancouver Canucks, was most recently head coach of the Minnesota Wild.

On Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada, Rogers Arena echoed with boos and chants of "Fire Benning." It was clear that the Canucks could no longer ignore the calls for change from their fanbase.

Less than 24 hours later, the Canucks heeded that call for change.

While the chants on Saturday called for the Canucks to fire general manager Jim Benning, many Canucks fans also want to see a coaching change. Like a rich child at Christmas, Canucks fans are apparently getting everything they wanted. 

As first reported by Elliotte Friedman, the Canucks have hired Bruce Boudreau as their new head coach. 

According to Darren Dreger, Boudreau will be joined by Scott Walker, who played 15 seasons in the NHL, including parts of four seasons with the Canucks before embarking on a coaching and front office career.

Walker was a development coach with the Canucks for two seasons from 2015-2017, then served as the team's director of player development for the 2018-19 season.

The report came prior to any notice of now-assumedly-former head coach Travis Green being fired. Green just signed a two-year deal as the Canucks' head coach in May, but was left dangling by a thread as the team struggled to start the season, with news leaking that the team was actively seeking his replacement.

Green got the Canucks to the playoffs in just one of his four full seasons as head coach, albeit with a team that was rebuilding at the start of his tenure. Green ends his time with the Canucks with a 133-147-34 record.

What was missing from these reports is the status of Benning, the person at whom Canucks fans have aimed most of their ire. Satiar Shah added an interesting tidbit to the mix: Boudreau was not Benning's hire.

There has been speculation that Benning does not have autonomy to make decisions at this point, which isn't entirely unsurprising. There have been questions regarding how independent his decisions have been from ownership for quite some time. 

There were reports that the Canucks were granted permission to talk to Claude Julien about the Canucks' head coaching job. Julien and Benning have a relationship that goes back to their time with the Boston Bruins. It seems likely that Julien was the coach that Benning wanted but was vetoed. If he didn't even have the authority to hire a coach, how much longer could he last as GM?

Sure enough, as first reported by Irfaan Gaffar and confirmed by Rick Dhaliwal, Benning and his right-hand man, John Weisbrod, are also out, along with assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner. One of Stan Smyl or Chris Gear is expected to take over as interim GM as the team seeks a long-term management fix.

The Canucks missed the playoffs in five of seven seasons under Benning and had a 242-257-61 record during his tenure. 

Boudreau, then, is presumably a coach that the Canucks' ownership agreed on and it's not hard to understand why. Boudreau is a big name, with 13 seasons of experience as an NHL head coach, most famously with Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals but most recently with the Minnesota Wild.

Boudreau is known for being a more offensive-minded coach, with a willingness to unleash talented forwards to be creative, sometimes at the expense of the team's defensive structure. Ovechkin thrived under Boudreau en route to a Presidents' Trophy, although they had minimal playoff success together. With two of the Canucks young stars, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, struggling to score, perhaps the thought is that Boudreau might be able to get more out of them than Green.

Despite his reputation, Boudreau showed that he can coach sound defence with the Minnesota Wild, although their offence, in turn, took a hit. The question, then, is what style will Boudreau bring to the Canucks? 

One interesting aspect is that Boudreau is not an interim coach. Boudreau has reportedly signed a two-year deal with the Canucks, same as the outgoing Green. If the Canucks do end up hiring a new general manager at some point in the future, he'll have to decide whether to retain Boudreau or bring in his own head coach, potentially leading to the Canucks paying three head coaches simultaneously.

Boudreau's hiring fits neatly into the pattern of the Edmonton Oilers in their final season under Peter Chiarelli as GM. The Oilers fired their head coach at about this same point in the season and hired a veteran, big-name coach in Ken Hitchcock. 

There have been many parallels between Benning's Canucks and Chiarelli's Oilers, but the Canucks are likely hoping that the rest of their season isn't one of them. The Oilers were exactly as bad after Hitchcock's hiring as they were before.

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