On September 9th 2013, in a crowded room of press and avid Stars fans alike, newly hired General Manager Jim Nill announced the new captain: Jamie Benn. Since the announcement Benn has been nothing short of spectacular for this franchise. He began the season by amassing 22 points in the team’s first 19 games (7 goals, 15 assists) and quickly produced undeniable chemistry with newcomer Tyler Seguin. Benn showed his ability not only to put the puck in the back of the net but also to do the little things needed to win. Blocking shots, taking hits, and rallying his teammates up with a fight have all been in Benn’s game since he was named captain. The stats do not lie as Benn has amassed more penalty minutes (58) than any other player in the top 15 of NHL scoring, excluding injured Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin.
Benn’s rising talent caught the attention of arguably the toughest hockey critics: Hockey Canada. On January 7th, the captain was named to the 2014 Canadian Olympic Men’s Hockey Team. While in Sochi, Benn showcased his all-world skill, most notably with the game-winning tally against the United States of America in the semi-finals. Benn’s impressive forehand redirect to the top shelf caught the eye of various hockey fans, many of which do not get to see him perform on a regular basis.
Benn continued to impress during his Olympic run with his well-rounded game on the penalty kill. Patrice Bergeron and Benn were the top pairing Head Coach Mike Babcock called on late in games to keep the Canadians ahead, or when he needed to win a big faceoff in the defensive zone. Babcock later told reporters Benn was creating very tough decisions on the coaching staff, “Benn was terrific tonight. He skates, he’s hard, he can shoot the puck. He’ll make some hard decisions on [the coaching staff] going forward.”
After returning from Sochi with Olympic Gold, Benn picked up where he left off in Dallas. He has notched 20 points in 18 games since the Olympic break, and is currently leading the team in a hunt for the playoffs.
Benn’s continued and impressive ascension as a leader has led many to believe that it is possible this team is capable of a first round upset, granted their playoff berth. As it stands today, the St.Louis Blues looks like the most probable opponent and the Stars have beaten them twice in their own barn in the month of March. The promise of playoff hockey for the first time since 2008 hangs in the balance of what the Stars captain can lead his team to. The way Benn’s season has been going this year, it would surprise few to see him put this team on his back and get them back where they belong: the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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