You may have heard that the Buffalo Sabres are in the market for a new General Manager these days, and new President of Hockey Operations, Pat LaFontaine, is making the rounds about the league searching for the perfect candidate.
One name that we know for sure is in the mix is that of the Boston Bruins Assistant GM, Jim Benning. LaFontaine has asked for and received permission to interview the 50-year old Benning for the Sabres job, and while he's one of many qualified candidates, Benning comes with unique ties to the Sabres, having served in their front office previously.
Benning has ties to the Sabres, having served as a team scout for twelve seasons, with the final eight years serving as their Director of Amateur Scouting. He helped draft much of the team's old core, including Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville, Paul Gaustad, and Derek Roy, among others. Whether that's a positive or a negative is up to you, I suppose.
His most recent experience comes eight years with the Bruins organization, behind their GM Peter Chiarelli, with whom he won the Stanley Cup with in 2011. This, on his experience, from The Boston Globe:
Benning was one of Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli’s first hires in 2006. Benning served as the Bruins’ director of player personnel for one season. He was promoted to assistant GM July 14, 2007. Benning’s strength is in player evaluation at all levels.
Benning would bring a few important things to the Sabres organization that might make him the right candidate. First, he has previous ties to Buffalo, which all of a sudden seems like an important thing considering how the team replaced Ron Rolston and Darcy Regier. Second, he's assembled a core that was good but ultimately failed in Buffalo, and over the past eight years has helped assemble a core that succeeded in winning the Cup in Boston; having seen both sides of the coin will hopefully allow him to recognize what worked and what didn't.
Finally, he's had the chance to see a top-notch, championship caliber organization rise in Boston, and could help to do the same in Buffalo. The Sabres not only want to become a contender on the ice, but they want to transform Buffalo into one of the most respected hockey cities in the league. However, the mangled third jersey reveal and Jason Pominville "tribute" say otherwise. Boston has been fantastic over the past few years at dealing with tricky situations, from the goofiness of Tim Thomas to tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings, and having another person in Buffalo who knows how to properly build a respectable franchise can only help.
There are more candidates to be interviews (and previewed) but for now, Sabres fans, what would you think of Jim Benning as Buffalo's GM?