OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 27: Team Chara forward Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars speaks with the press during the 2012 NHL All-Star Game Player Media Availability at the Westin Ottawa on January 27, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Jamie Benn has never been the flashy sort, at least not off the ice. While he's been amazing Dallas Stars fans for two and half seasons now, he usually relies on his spectacular play to do his talking for him. Off the ice, Benn has been a quiet, unassuming young man who seems hesitant to really let his personality come out.
Benn is exactly what you'd want in your superstar player, a guy who leaves it all on the ice and will never create drama off of it. He's always looking to say the right thing, coached by years of PR training ever since his days in the WHL.
The juxtaposition between the on-ice Benn and the off-ice Benn is staggering, and perhaps once of the reasons fans love him so much. Sure, the incredible goals and big perfomances help but the "aw shucks" attitude he takes about his individual accomplishments will always be something that endears him to fans.
Which is why we shouldn't have been surprised that Jamie Benn was a fish out of water at the NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa, where big personalities and superstar players are celebrated and applauded.
Many of us have been itching to see Jamie Benn finally start to get the national attention he deserves. Left off of many "top 50" and "top 100" lists headed into the season, even in the midst of a career year it's seemed as if Benn is still never going to get the recognition he deserves. A lot of that has to do with the fact the Stars have been merely average since he broke into the NHL and a lot of is also has to do with his quiet demeanor, much different than many of the superstars around the NHL.
With Benn fighting back from an appendectomy to make it to Ottawa, he was selected next-to-last (perhaps even worse than actually being last) and had a great attitude about the entire weekend. Here was Benn, a 5th round draft pick thrust into the spotlight after just two seasons in the NHL, playing alongside the absolute best the NHL has to offer.
That he was finally regarded on the same plane as the rest is something that alone has to instill an incredible sense of accomplishment in the modest superstar. Benn is someone whose focus is always on winning and the team around him, and for the first time in his career he was being regarded as an individual -- and held in the same light as some of the biggest superstars in the NHL.
Benn has always had some national visibility, mostly because his spectacular goals end up on top ten lists each season. His goal from earlier this year against Columbus may end up as the best goal of the season, which alone would be enough to help make him a household name.
Yet this past weekend, in the skills competition on Saturday, Benn did his best to thrust himself into the conversation of some of the best around the NHL. Winning the accuracy shootout with an amazing four-of-five in 10 seconds, Benn had the Ottawa crowd buzzing -- until he was overshadowed by Zdeno Chara and his Super Stick.
Benn then followed that up with an even more amazing feat -- going three-for-three in the one-timer portion of the relay from a severe angle, something that the announcers kept referring to time and again.
While his modest ways would keep him from really lighting it up in the actual game (it seems that Benn was just out there having fun and skating) Benn is returning to Dallas with the first real national spotlight on him in his career. It was a great experience for Benn, to talk to and play with the best the NHL has to offer, and the hope is the experience carries over to the rest of the season.
Benn is the most important player for the Dallas Stars now and while we all love to see him get national love and attention, what is truly needed is for Benn to continue to improve and lead this team to the postseason.
He'll always have that "aw shucks" attitude and likely will never be the flashiest player in the league, but he could certainly be one of the most impressive if he's able to put this team on his back and carry them to the playoffs, likely the only way they'll actually make it.
That, and defense. Defense helps.