Defense: Living Dangerously

This is Brian Benning. His draft day scouting report would have read "smart, mobile defenseman" and he delivered all the way to the NHL. Benning’s story is the story of hockey in Northern Alberta.

Brian Benning first came to prominence for hockey fans as a member of the St. Albert Saints (AJHL). He played a couple of games for them in 81-82 before becoming an integral part of the team the following year. Benning graduated to the WHL in 83-84, posting a quality season and getting himself drafted in the top 30 (#26 overall) in 1984.

He was ranked as the 14th best player available that season, but a cracked bone in his right wrist (suffered December 1993) cost him a few slots on the draft board. Not to worry, once Benning turned pro he never looked back, posting an outstanding rookie season (make the all-rookie team) and replacing the injured Bruce Bell so well the Blues never looked back. Benning never played in the minor leagues, his skill set so good that NHL teams were always willing to find a spot when he was healthy.

I don’t know how many games Brian Benning played hurt, but there were many. Here is the published list of injuries suffered by Brian Benning during his hockey career:

  • December 1983: cracked bone in right wrist.
  • December 1984: Broken right femur, suffered when he was checked into the boards by Ken Priestlay while trying to get back for an icing call.
  • March 1990: Emergency appendectomy
  • December 1990: back problems pagued him for some time, dating back to December 1 game.
  • October 1991: Strained groin, suffered after skating over crack in the ice during LAK practice.
  • October 1992: Strained lower back injury.
  • January 1993: Strained groin.
  • February 1993: Sprained wrist.
  • October 1993: Dislocated left shoulder.

That’s the known list. Hockey defensemen get hurt. A lot. Brian Benning played 563 NHL games and another 48 in the post-season. He retired in 1995 spring, and would turn 29 that summer.

Nation Radio is on Team 1260 at noon today. Your calls and emails are very important because the guest list was put together before the Lombardi waves. So please send in questions and comments and I promise to read them. Scheduled guests:

  • Former NHLer Brian Benning, who played with the Oilers and several other teams during his career. We’ll talk about the draft, free agency, the difficulty of playing his position and I might mention that Jari Kurri crosscheck too. I’ll also ask him about the role injuries played in shortening his NHL career.
  • Lisa McRitchie from the Copper and Blue. She’s been on fire lately at the C&B, giving excellent information about the draft and the development camp. We’ll talk about those issues and more.
  • Kent Wilson from Flames Nation. We’ll talk about the Flames in free agency, the draft and both of us will predict where the Oilers and Flames finish in 11-12.
  • Steve Serdachny from the Edmonton Oilers. I’ll ask him about his power and skills program and the results expected from it. Early word is that Anton Lander has gained a step since one year ago.

I’m also attempting to get a "live on the scene" update from Oilers development camp and the action there this morning. Hope you tune in.