VANCOUVER - When Jim Benning was introduced as the 11th general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, he didn't exactly promise the world.
But he did mention this team is ready to compete now.
Just so we're clear, compete to me means compete for a championship. If the Canucks miss another post-season next year we better not hear the statement, “I liked our compete level.”
Benning trusts that the core players, who are high on character and low on goals, will find a way to turn it around.
And to help them do just that he's promised some help in the way of depth — especially on the third and fourth lines.
That leaves just one question. What about some help for Ryan Kesler?
It's looking more and more like it may be too late. According to Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman, Kesler and his agent Kurt Overhardt have met privately with Trevor Linden. Then Kesler met again with Linden on his own.
I'm guessing these meetings aren't part of some kind of contrition campaign to get back the "A" that was stripped off his jersey.
Suddenly losing a letter makes sense now doesn't it?
If it looks like a disgruntled centre, and quacks like a player who's supplied a list of teams he would accept a trade to, then it's probably a duck.
Watch him go to Anaheim now.
This would be Benning's first major test and given the speed in which he believes this team will compete it's probably safe to assume he'll want everyday roster players in return. Players who can contribute now.
The price for a player of Kesler's pedigree should be a major prospect and a player who can solidify a third or fourth line.
But not if the future is now.
I always figured the best player in any trade involving Kesler would be Kesler.
Thinking this team can win now only assures it.