Before making a knee jerk response to the title of the post, think about this for a minute. While all the talk and speculation centered around Brad Richards' injury and potential trade at the deadline, Jamie Benn returned to the lineup and showed why he is arguably the most valuable player for the Dallas Stars. Jamie personifies the intangibles that I pointed out at the beginning of the season make this team at least a 4 seed for the playoffs. He's tenacious, he's tough, he's physical, he never stops fighting for the puck, he never gives up, he's explosive, he makes big plays at critical points in a game, he has skill, and he's a natural leader (One example of this was evident when a camera shot of the bench during a stoppage in play revealed Jamie leaning over and instructing/encouraging his young teammate, Vincour. The Stars are a completely different team when Jamie is healthy and on the ice.
This does not take anything away from one of the best centers in the NHL. Richards has been greatly missed, no doubt. But the record speaks for itself. When Jamie Benn was out, the Stars record was 2-7-1. Since Richard's had his concussion, the Stars are 5-4-1 and getting hotter by the minute. And the Stars have gained this momentum in a very tough stretch of games out west.
Brad Richards has never been accused of being an inspirational, emotional, or vocal leader. He leads quietly by example. And that's ok. But Jamie displays a fire on the ice that is contagious. And his willingness to mix it up with the baddest of boys on the pond is quickly endearing Benn to his teammates who increasingly are looking to this 21 year old budding star to lead them.
So, as we sit here today, if you ask me who would I rather be missing from the lineup, I would have to say Richards. Give me Jamie Benn if that is the choice. But good news for Stars fans is: If Brad Richards can get back to playing like he was before the injury, can you imagine how good this team can be heading into the playoffs?