Despite missing the playoffs in each of the last four seasons, the Vancouver Canucks decided to extend GM Jim Benning today. The reasons for that are complicated—and obviously do not hinge entirely on his postseason record—just as they were when the Minnesota Wild made the decision to fire Paul Fenton just 14 months into his tenure with the team. The inner workings of an NHL front office are almost never made public (unless there is an intrepid reporter like Michael Russo of The Athletic who gets the incredible story), and it is hard to see why some decisions are made.
Still, even the most casual fan can see the seat of specific executives and coaches heating up. When the Edmonton Oilers decided to move on from Peter Chiarelli during another disappointing season, it didn’t come as much of a surprise. On the other hand, it was easy to see why the Carolina Hurricanes recently locked up Don Waddell after he interviewed for another job.
Looking around the league, who is next? Which GM will be let go, either this year or next summer?
It might be easy to look at the teams that have struggled recently, but many of them have replaced their top hockey operations executive over the last few seasons. The Oilers brought in Ken Holland to change the culture in Edmonton, while Steve Yzerman returned to the Detroit Red Wings to bring a new voice to a stagnant team. Florida has gone through quite a bit of turmoil in the front office since their ownership changed but Dale Tallon now seems to be entrenched as a veteran leader.
There are others though that may not be so lucky. The Ottawa Senators are heading in a new direction after shedding their previous core, but if the young talent doesn’t develop as hoped Pierre Dorion could be held responsible. John Chayka was the youngest GM in history when he took over the Arizona Coyotes in 2016, but they still haven’t made the playoffs under his watch and now have new ownership of their own. Jason Botterill was expected to have success in Buffalo after finding so much of it in Pittsburgh, but the Sabres haven’t been able to build a full roster around Jack Eichel despite some outstanding individual players.
Nothing is certain when it comes to front offices however. Cast your vote below and explain just why you think they’ll be the first to go!
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*We’ve used Kelly McCrimmon as the Vegas GM, though he won’t officially take that title from George McPhee until September