An idea that started off as chatter between passionate hockey fans on Twitter took to the Lower Mainland skies on Wednesday, April 21.
A plane flying a banner which read #firebenning lifted off from the Pitt Meadows airport, and circled around Vancouver, as well as its surrounding areas.
The message is in reference to some fans’ displeasure with the way general manager Jim Benning is running the Vancouver Canucks.
Niqhil Velji, who regularly Tweets about the team, lives in Pitt Meadows.
He took video of the take-off.
And lift off #FireBenning pic.twitter.com/nXy0qTpcxp
— niqhil velji (@NiqhilVelji) April 21, 2021
“We are huge Canucks fans who love the team, but we’re questioning the direction of management and ownership,” he said.
To express their concerns, a group member who goes by the Twitter handle UncleLaleet started a GoFundMe campaign to pay the $1,600 it costs to fly a banner over Metro Vancouver and surrounding areas for an hour.
“Canucks fans are demanding that the owners of the Vancouver Canucks fire Jim Benning and replace him with a management team that can build a Stanley Cup championship team immediately,” the fundraiser said.
“The city of Vancouver has supported this team for 50 years and we are not supporting this three ring circus any longer. #FireBenning.”
Support for the flying banner came quickly.
“I figured it was going to hit its quota,’ Velji said. “But I thought it was going to take a day or two.
“The fact it did it within hours was pretty incredible.”
Some thought the money could have been put to better use.
Money should have went to a cause that needs it.
— We are all Canucks (@DelVlko) April 22, 2021
But Velji was quick to point out every additional dollar raised – after the sign was paid for – was donated to Canuck Place children’s hospice.
“Over $1,000 has already been donated to a children’s charity,” he said. “And more is coming in.”
The group’s antagonism towards Jim Benning isn’t personal, Velji insisted.
“If you look at columns from NHL writers who are analysing the performance of GMs, Jim Benning is a bottom five, or worse.” he said.
“He’s been the Canucks GM for seven years, and they have made the playoffs two times.”
While some fans of Benning argue he has done well with his draft picks in recent years, Velji noted he doesn’t think the GM will be capable of surrounding the young talent with the team mates they need to succeed.
“Canucks have a great young core, but it’s about adding the necessary pieces to supplement that core, he said, “And I know Jim Benning is not going to be able to do that.”
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