The Buffalo Sabres General manager vacancy seems to have been narrowed down to two men; Tim Murray and Jim Benning. Both are currently assistant general managers in the NHL, both have solid resumes and both appear to be on Pat LaFontaine‘s short list of GM candidates. But only one candidate has ties to the Buffalo Sabres and that man in Jim Benning.
Now it shouldn’t matter whether a person has ties to the team or not, it’s all about hiring the best man for the job, but the Buffalo Sabres seem to want former players and employees back for their rebuild. Since the Sabres want people with ties to the organization, Benning needs to be their guy.
The next thing LaFontaine was looking for was a guy with playoff experience and a Stanley Cup, Benning has both of those. He joined
the Boston Bruins as a scout in 2006 after his time scouting for the Sabres and worked his way up the ranks to assistant GM of the Bruins. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and Jim Benning had his name placed on the Stanley Cup. Since Benning began working with the Bruins they have gone from a non-playoff team to a team with 2 conference semi-finals and two Stanley Cup Finals. In fact the Bruins have not missed the playoffs since acquiring Benning. That’s a pretty decent track record if you ask me!
Not to mention his time with the Buffalo Sabres wasn’t exactly a failure either. He was with the Sabres from 1994 through to 2004 and was responsible for drafting the “old core” of the Buffalo Sabres which carried the team through 2005-2007.
Everywhere Benning goes success seems to follow him there. Whether it’s drafting players, making or suggesting trades, evaluating players or signing free agents, Benning know’s how to attract success. He pretty much runs the draft for the Bruins and considering the Sabres are rebuilding and have a plethora of draft picks in the next few season’s, a guy who knows how to work the draft and draft the right guys will be a huge benefit.
Benning was successful drafting for the Sabres once before, it’s not his fault Darcy Regier couldn’t make use of Derek Roy and Jason Pominville. The next few season’s will feature lots of talent available and Benning could help the Sabres draft the right guys going forward.
Throughout his time with both the Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins, Jim Benning has shown that he knows how build winning hockey teams in the NHL. It’s one thing to build a championship calibre team in the AHL, but it’s another to build one in the NHL. Benning knows how to find talent through the daft and through trades and that’s exactly the kind of GM the Sabres need. He’s been the favourite for the job for the last few weeks and LaFontaine needs to hire.