This summer has been a bittersweet symphony for Victoria’s Jamie Benn. He was left off Canada’s Olympic orientation camp roster – a noticeable and very non-slight snub – and now, at 24 years old, he’s become the captain of the NHL’s Dallas Stars.
The Stars introduced Benn as their captain on Thursday, making the former Kelowna Rocket the sixth captain in franchise history. Benn replaces Brenden Morrow, who was traded to Pittsburgh at last season’s trade deadline.
It’s been a fast rise for Benn who was playing junior B with Peninsula Panthers of North Saanich, before rising through the ranks to the B.C. Hockey League, Western Hockey League, World Junior IIHF tournament and NHL. Last season, he signed a five-year, $26.25 million deal that makes him a Star through 2017.
“I’m deeply humbled and honoured to be named the captain of the Dallas Stars,” Benn said on Thursday. “I look forward to representing this organization, my teammates, our fans and this great city in our pursuit to bring another Stanley Cup to Dallas.”
During his time in Dallas, Benn has evolved into a dominant two-way player, a force of size and speed – with reach and stickhandling to spare – who can change the trajectory of a game (sometimes) seemingly at will.
Through four seasons with the Stars, Benn has 193 points in 263 games – not bad for a kid selected in the fifth round (129th overall) in 2007.
“In a very short period of time, Jamie Benn has gone from being an exciting up-and-coming player in the NHL, to being a cornerstone of the franchise,” said Stars general manager Jim Nill, in a statement released by the team. “He has steadily grown as a player and as a person. He conducts himself each and every day in a professional way and continually leads by example. We fully believe that he will be a driving force in getting this team to the next level – and now he’s our captain.”
The Stars also said Stephane Robidas and Ray Whitney would serve as assistant captains.
After his Olympic snub, Benn said he’d use the knock as motivation. (Being named captain of the team that drafted you might help with that, too.)
“It gives you a little fire,” he said in August. “I just want to kind of shove it in their face.”
At this year’s NHL Entry Draft, the Stars brought in another young, big body to help with Big D’s hoped resurgence, 10th overall pick Valeri Nichushkin, who was taken one spot after the Vancouver Canucks selected Bo Horvat.
The Stars also dealt winger Loui Eriksson to Boston this summer, getting 2010 No. 2 overall pick Tyler Seguin in return.