MONTREAL â€” Jordie and Jamie Benn are about to live something neither has experienced before â€” playing against each other in an organized hockey game.
The brothers clashed plenty of times in road hockey games while growing up in Victoria, but they have only ever been teammates in games on skates and in official gear.
That will change Tuesday night when Jamie Benn’s Dallas Stars face Jordie Benn’s Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
Jordie was traded to Montreal on Feb. 27 for defenceman Greg Pateryn and a fourth round draft pick after nearly seven seasons as Jamie’s teammate in Dallas.
“We’re pretty close,” Jamie said Monday. “We’re best friends.
“It was tough to see him go, but it was fun to experience the NHL life while we had the time together. I’m more excited that he can be his own person now in Montreal and really take off with his career.”
As players, 27-year-old Jamie and 29-year-old Jordie could not be more different. Jordie is a dependable, second or third-pair rearguard whose strength is breaking up attacks while Jamie is a star centre who won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL scoring leader in 2015 and who helped Canada win gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
In hockey, Jordie is mainly known as Jamie’s brother. But now that he is on a different team in another conference, perhaps the long-bearded older sibling will start making a name for himself.
“Obviously, there’s that shadow aspect because he’s such a superstar and the player that he is, but I’m not the type of person that cares too much about that stuff,” said Jordie. “I want him to be as successful as he can be.
“If I have to live in his shadow I’m perfectly fine with it. He’s an awesome guy and an awesome brother.”
And when Jamie emerged as the NHL scoring leader with 87 points in 2014-15, there was no jealousy.
“He’s my brother, It was awesome,” said Jordie. “I’m probably not ever going to win one of those things, but he’s a family member and he got to win something so special, to him and our family. It was nice to be along for the ride.”
Jordie Benn has quickly established himself in Montreal’s defence corps, currently playing the right side on a pairing with Nathan Beaulieu. Coach Claude Julien said the club is “lucky to have Jordie with us because he really gave us stability on defence.”
Dallas coach Lindy Ruff didn’t want to lose Jordie either, but with the Stars’ playoff hopes fading they became sellers at the NHL trade deadline he was among those shipped off to a new team.
“Jordie was an important piece of our team,” said Ruff. “He was a big part of our team last year that ended up having such a good record.
“I think his play has greatly improved the last four years.”
It remains to be seen if, or when, the brothers are on the ice at the same time.
“Probably, when he steps on the ice I’ll get yelled at to get off, so I’ll be on the bench watching him play,” Jordie said with a laugh. “It’s obviously going to be a little different but it’s not the first time someone’s been traded and had to play against their old team right away. And with my brother being there it’ll be a lot of fun.”
“It should be fun for both of us,” said Jamie. “I’ve been watching almost every (Canadiens) game.
“It gives me something to do when we’re not playing. I even find myself following the Canadiens on Twitter now. I’m happy for him. He’s in a good spot now. Montreal’s a top-notch organization and they’ve got a great team over there. I’m glad he’s fitting in here and he’s enjoying it.”
It may be tougher on their parents, Heather and Randy Benn, having to root for both teams. Neither will be able to make it to game in person, however.
“My dad is taking care of my dogs (in Dallas), so he’ll probably just be hanging out on the couch, but my mum will be a nervous wreck,” said Jordie.
Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press