Canucks Mailbag: What’s going on between GM Jim Benning and Judd Brackett?

From raising the Sedins jerseys to the rafters to J.T. Miller's amazing first season in Vancouver, here's a quick look at all the best moments from the 2019-20 Canucks... so far.

Breaking news: Canucks Nation has a lot of questions about amateur scouting director Judd Brackett’s relationship with general manager Jim Benning and assistant GM John Weisbrod.

This week’s mailbag reflects the hot-button issue burning through the fan base. Alas, several of the questions are not legally safe to print since essential-services provisions amid the novel coronavirus shutdown do not include attorneys to defend against libel and defamation lawsuits.

But we’re including a selection of Brackett questions and a bunch of other stuff in MacIntyre Mailbag 2. (I’m thinking of going to Roman numerals).

Numerous reports base this dispute on autonomy. Brackett doesn’t have control over the amateur scouting department that he desires. Stuff happens in sports organizations and guys move on, but what makes this issue exceptional is the level of detail being reported regarding Brackett’s unhappiness – right down to the contract that Benning offered him — and that it’s all occurring during what appears to be a golden era for Canucks scouting and drafting.

Regardless of the business, every worker wants to feel valued and respected, and every manager should seek that for their employees. Brackett has done an excellent job and deserves respect, as well as a degree of latitude. But as far as I know, there isn’t an organization in the National Hockey League in which the GM – and remember, Benning built his career as scout – has ceded total control of his scouting department and draft to a senior employee. Because if the owner comes looking for a scalp, his first stop isn’t the scouting department.

Good question and I don’t know. The Canucks added five new amateur scouts last summer and Benning said this is the strongest department he has had, so it’s extremely likely that if Brackett leaves he will be replaced from within. It would be naive to think, given how long this issue has been ongoing, there hasn’t been some succession planning. Benning promoted Brackett to the top job a year after inheriting him from Mike Gillis’ scouting staff.

Benning hired Weisbrod to be his right-hand man, and as such Weisbrod is involved in nearly every aspect of hockey operations, including amateur scouting. Gillis had Laurence Gilman, Brian Burke had Dave Nonis, Nonis had Steve Tambellini. I’m not saying the Benning-Weisbrod dynamic is the same as those others or that those assistant GMs had the same level of influence. But every GM wants a supportive lieutenant he knows and trusts. That’s why it might be the most important hire after a head coach.

The Brackett story would be big no matter what the circumstances but, yes, there isn’t a whole lot else to occupy West Coast attention these days in sports.

Zero goals. The same as Olli Juolevi at the NHL level. But Juolevi was Benning’s choice back in 2016 because the GM wanted a defenceman and loved what he saw from the Finn at the world juniors. He could have chosen Mikhail Sergachev or Charlie McAvoy. Benning is believed to have gone with Brackett’s first-round recommendation ever since.

You’ll have to ask Canucks Twitter, but let’s move on.

Alex Mogilny was the best player I’ve ever seen in a Canucks uniform. But only for that one season. Incredibly gifted offensively, he could also play in his own end and in any situation. Teammates and staff, including Pat Quinn, loved Mogilny. But the team started to crater in his second season in Vancouver, and Mogilny wasn’t inspired playing for a draft position. I once tried to get a reaction from Mogilny, who was always chill, by asking him after practice one day if there was any sweat on his jersey. Trent Klatt just about fell out of the next stall. I also asked AlMo after the season for a summer contact, and his reply: “Sure, you want my credit card number, too?”

A lot of details still to be worked out IF the NHL returns with an expanded post-season format, but the league has said the Canucks are a playoff team on winning percentage and I don’t think that will change. The Canucks have no choice in this: they traded their 2020 first-round pick for J.T. Miller, but will defer payment to 2021 only if they miss the playoffs this season.

There are a lot of moving parts on the blue line. The only certainties for next season are Alex Edler, Tyler Myers and Quinn Hughes. UFA Chris Tanev and RFA Troy Stecher could both be salary-cap casualties, and the team is expected to try moving Jordie Benn. Benn’s US$2 million salary could go to Nikita Tryamkin, and there’s a chance Brogan Rafferty makes the NHL roster after his excellent season in the AHL. Outstanding prospect Jack Rathbone could even play his way into NHL duty if he leaves Harvard, but that seems unlikely due to all the uncertainty in the hockey world – and real world – these days. After that, there’s still a chance for Juolevi on the left side. Unless the Canucks get Tanev and/or Stecher back at salaries that fit the cap, Vancouver will have to go on the market for another defenceman or two.

The universal answer to that question, unless it’s to Barry Melrose, is “too long.” I’ve tried trimming my locks, but think I’d be more successful acting as my own chiropractor than barber. Since there’s no photographic evidence, I admit that I once had a ponytail as a very young man in the late ’80s, but my hair was never long and straight enough to form more than a little pigtail. I looked like an extra in a pirates drama.

Firstly, that was only 28-and-a-half years ago. But I cannot deny this graphic evidence: that’s my mentor, former Sun columnist Archie McDonald, on the far left and, I believe, a photographer standing behind Pavel Bure. The frightening part is that Pat Quinn’s hair migrated over time to my head.

Outstanding question. Glad you asked. Easily Old Tom, Kenny Dalglish, Jim Clark and Sir Walter Scott. The choice of actors is close, but I have to go with Fat Bastard because I saw “Rising Sun.”

On ice, Snepsts, easy. And I congratulate you for spelling Harold’s name correctly. But in sand, I’d go with Murzyn because those pumping arms would help generate momentum. And his skating stride would be the same.

I sense some cynicism in this question from my semi-retired friend who last paid for a round of golf when balls were gutta-percha. Work ALWAYS comes first and I have never missed a big story on the road – like, say, the reacquisition of Trevor Linden – because I was at a Jimmy Buffett concert. I have, however, on rare occasions brought my golf clubs to the NHL draft, then taken an extra day on my own dime before flying home. In this way, I was able to play: 1. Whistling Straits (a drive from Chicago) 2. Bethpage Black (New York City) 3. Streamsong Red (near Tampa) 4. Bulle Rock (a drive from Philadelphia) 5. Longaberger (outside Columbus).

Welcome back to Twitter my witty and fully retired Vancouver Sun colleague. You sell yourself short (no pun intended): You were both play-by-play man and colour anaIyst. Such as the time you offered in your customary staccato: “Canucks lose the faceoff. Turnover. Look at that, another bad pass. This team’s not ready to play.” And then the first 10 seconds of the game ended.

But I do miss your observations and appreciate your ongoing willingness to catch my mistakes before most Sportsnet readers see them.

Who is this? Friends don’t call friends while on live television.

The Canucks have an excellent group of wingers on their way: Nils Hoglander, Vasily Podkolzin, Kole Lind, Will Lockwood, even Aidan Mcdonagh. And Zack MacEwen is already on the team. Their weakest position in the system is arguably their strongest at the NHL level: centre. The Canucks regarded Tyler Madden more as a winger than centre, but traded him to the Los Angeles Kings for Tyler Toffoli. Fifth-round pick Carson Focht is probably the best centre in the pipeline, and he just finished his draft-plus-one junior season in the WHL. It’s an area the Canucks need to address.

Josh Leivo continues to rehab from his broken knee cap. Canucks always said if the playoffs lasted long enough, Leivo might play again this season. But if they started tomorrow, he’d still be unavailable.

Easy but lengthy recipe. Requires commitment. Use quality stew beef from a butcher and don’t cheap out on the wine. Go with two-thirds/one-third mix of wine and beef stock and use plenty of flour when you initially cook the onion and celery to ensure a substantial sauce as you cook the meat for three to four hours in a sealed cast-iron pot. You’re welcome.


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