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Why sign Miller? Benning wanted ‘a goalie with experience’

Jul 1, 2014, 4:25 PM EDT

Ryan Miller AP

When Canucks general manager Jim Benning was chief scout of the Buffalo Sabres, he was instrumental in the team’s drafting of a skinny goalie out of Michigan State.

Today, 15 years later, Benning was reunited with that skinny goalie, as Vancouver signed Ryan Miller to a three-year, $18 million contract.

“I know Ryan. I know him as a person,” said Benning. “He’s going to give our team confidence. I think goaltending is the most important position on the team.”

Benning reiterated that his goal is to return Vancouver to the playoffs, adding he “thought it was important to get a goalie with experience” to achieve that objective.

Before Miller signed on with the Canucks, Vancouver’s netminding duo consisted of Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom. While some GMs might’ve been tempted to roll the dice, hope Lack and Markstrom could get the job done, and use the millions in cap space elsewhere, Benning thought otherwise, calling Miller a “player we identified early” and a goalie he was excited to sign.

As for Miller, the 33-year-old is well aware of Vancouver’s “media reputation,” as well as the soap opera involving Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider that came before him. But at the same time, he believes the Canucks are a team that can “get their mojo back” after a disastrous 2013-14 campaign under coach John Tortorella, who’s since been replaced with Willie Desjardins.

“From the top down, I think they have the right attitude in place,” said Miller, while making reference to the “system” the Canucks played under Tortorella — a system the Canucks’ braintrust clearly believes was to blame for much of the team’s struggles.

Miller also spoke about his short stint with the Blues, noting that while his failure to help St. Louis in last year’s playoffs will always “sting,” he believes that “one moment doesn’t define you.”

He added that he’s “always developing as a player and a person” and “very open to any help I can get”; as such, he’s looking forward to working with Vancouver’s goalie coach, Rollie Melanson.

Benning, meanwhile, isn’t done dealing. Unable to convince Jarome Iginla to sign with the Canucks, he said he’ll turn his attention to the “secondary market” to add scoring.

  1. notan9ner - Jul 1, 2014 at 4:42 PM

    We all knew this was the only pick up we were getting today….

  2. kaptaanamerica - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    Great pickup. Benning is a GM with a clue. Not just relying on advanced stats to jettison useful players (torres, mitchell, Grabner etc…) while picking up others who don’t pan out (Booth, Ballard, Raymond etc..)

    • dolphincult - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:36 PM

      hey captain America. Im no canuck fan but stick to commenting on a team who you atleast know who is pulling the trigger on the moves. Benning was just hired you fool

      • kaptaanamerica - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:43 PM

        wake up you mook. i’m comparing him to the idiot MG who pulled the trigger on those other deals. i’m no mook, but you stick to commenting on some other team’s posts where a mook like you would be appreciated…

    • pigeonbutt - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:42 PM

      Let’s wait until his team touches the ice for the first time…

  3. bhglennie - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    The main problem for the last couple years has not been addressed, scoring goals.
    Why go after Iginla, we have enough old sharpshooters making big bucks, need some young sharpshooters who are not projects.

    • salmon90 - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:36 PM

      who’d you have in mind?

  4. Andee - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:27 PM

    Could have waited. The market for Miller was established as being virtually non-existent. I don’t know if VAN thought they were going to be snaked by another team with a less obvious need for goaltending, but they likely could have gotten him cheaper than that if they stuck to their guns. Long time Sabre fan, and tremendous respect for Miller, but he made his demands about being on the west coast and literally only VAN was a possible destination. I wish him all the best out there.

    • hockeyflow33 - Jul 2, 2014 at 12:58 AM

      I’m not sure why waiting to sign the guy you want is a good idea. Nothing good can come of it

  5. mackstrong2013 - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    I just don’t get it. Picking up rat face only makes sense if it’s paired with a top 6 forward. I’m not of the “he ducks now” mentality, he’s super solid, but unless we come out in a flying V and he works on his knuckle puck, we still can’t score. Burrows/the Sedins need to return to form, Kassian needs to step up, and Bonino needs to replicate last season for us to have any chance at even getting into the playoffs. Too many ifs for me.

  6. chiadam - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    Experience not winning in the playoffs? He’ll fit right in on the Canucks.

    • notan9ner - Jul 1, 2014 at 8:11 PM

      Still better than every other Canadian team except the Habs

    • rmccleary97 - Jul 1, 2014 at 10:05 PM

      That presumes the Canucks make the playoffs. This year? They’re not going top-3 in the Pacific, there’s a fantastic argument that they’re not getting a wild-card spot because both of them may go to Central division teams, and there’s a decent argument that they’re not better than Nashville or Phoenix.

      The next 2 years? I wouldn’t be shocked if they don’t make the playoffs in either of those years.

  7. mackstrong2013 - Jul 2, 2014 at 2:17 AM

    The hardest thing about predicting how the Canucks are going to do, is how different last year was from the year before. The previous two playoffs were pitiful, but from a season stand point last year was the quintessential “which one of these doesn’t belong.” If they can get back to the style they succeed with, and forget Torts ever existed they can probably squeak in the playoffs. But nobody wants that anymore, it’s infuriating. That’s why a mid 30’s goalie, unless we trade for a top 6, makes no sense.

  8. wranglerick - Jul 2, 2014 at 6:48 AM

    Didnt Messier get that same deal ?

    • mackstrong2013 - Jul 2, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      Lol, all the way back to Messier? Weak.

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