DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 03: Jordie Benn #58 of the Dallas Stars skates against the Detroit Red Wings at American Airlines Center on January 3, 2012 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
All in all, the Dallas Stars have had a pretty successful week, overcoming defensive shortfalls and mounting injuries to come away with a handful of impressive wins against the Nashville Predators, Edmonton Oilers, and the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins. Sandwiched between those wins was a loss to the hated Detroit Red Wings that wasn't over until the final buzzer, despite the best efforts of Henrik Zetterberg and the Detroit offense.
In both the Nashville game and the Boston game, the Stars were up against a team that not only wanted the two points, but a pound of flesh in the process. Boston, which takes great pride in their manhandling of the Stars over the past few contests had decided to focus in on Steve Ott and try to physically intimidate us out of playing our game. The Stars took it all in stride, stayed calm, and proceeded to play one of their better games of the season, coming away with a 4-2 win.
The Predators, always willing to pick a fight with their fellow southern brethren, decided to villainize Mark Fistric for the Shea Weber injury. They sent their adorable little pest Jordin Tootoo after him to send... a message? It resulted in an uneventful wrestling match, two fighting majors, and not much else. It got feisty a few times after the whistle, but again, the Stars stuck to their game plan and coolly skated to a 4-1 victory on the road.
In the midst of these four contests, the Stars suffered even more injuries, witnessed Jamie Benn enter Beast Mode and gave his older brother his first taste of NHL action. In Florida, former Dallas Star Krys Barch was ejected, suspended, and accused of racism.
Jordie Benn is a player that most Stars fans probably never expected to see in a Dallas Stars sweater. After moving to Texas to be closer to his brother, and finding work in the Central Hockey League with the Allen Americans, he found himself on the radar of the Dallas Stars scouting department.
When he was signed by the organization, most fans, myself included, expected him to follow in the footsteps of Michael Neal. The brother of a legit NHLer that wouldn't contribute much, if anything, to the big club. The thing with the Benn brothers... they seem to be late bloomers.
Jamie, who didn't seem to find his game until after the Stars claimed him with a 5th round draft pick, has turned into the premier power forward for the Dallas Stars at the age of 22. Jordie, who went undrafted, also continues to surpass all expectations placed in front of him moving up about a league per season until reaching the big time this week.
All of his hard work and simple reliability was rewarded in his first NHL game, where he registered his first point on a goal by Loui Eriksson. The other assist was Jamie's. Other than his feel-good stat line for the game, Jordie hasn't been too noticeable since the call-up, which is exactly what you'd want from an AHL call-up in his first stint with the team.
His relative invisibility makes him an upgrade over Adam Pardy, who most fans will agree is a little too noticeable on most nights. Sadly, with the amount of money we're paying Pardy, and the fact that Sean Avery can't be relied on to play NHL minutes for the Rangers, we probably can't afford to turn Jordie Benn into this month's Richard Bachman... but a guy can dream.
Another benefit of having Jordie on the NHL roster is that I believe Jamie Benn is showing off and trying to impress his big bro. Jamie has been absolutely on fire recently, as we all witnessed against the Oilers on Saturday afternoon. Easily one of the most talented players on the team, when he gets on a roll, he can be absolutely dominant.
The other big headline of the week involved former Dallas enforcer Krys Barch, now of the Florida Panthers. Now I've never been a big fan of his game, and I was pretty annoyed most nights that he was in the lineup when he was here, but there is no denying that he's a stand-up guy, a good teammate, and a class act.
That's why it was so shocking to see him get ejected from a contest with the Montreal Canadiens, and later suspended for a game, after the linesman overheard him utter a supposed racial slur to PK Subban. Rumors were abound on what was said and who heard it, and it really gave Barch a black eye that it turns out wasn't even remotely deserved.
Let me preface this by saying that I am firmly against all racism. I'm usually a bit oversensitive about it, possibly because I'm a white man with a shaved head in the State of Texas, and I don't want anyone assuming bad things about me... but there is without question a certain line where oversensitivity reaches the point of ridiculousness.
That line has been crossed. Barch was overheard asking Subban if the reason he fell down during his fight with Erik Gudbranson was because he slipped on a banana peel. That's all. Granted, I understand that Wayne Simmonds had bananas thrown at him earlier this year in a racially motivated display of idiocy... but in this situation, I almost think it's more racist of the linesman to assume any banana reference must be due to the skin color of the player it was uttered to.
Barch obviously didn't mean it that way. Subban didn't take it that way. Anyone with any knowledge of idioms in the English language at all would not take offense... but this is the NHL, and as such, Barch was suspended for a racially insensitive comment. Giving him, the league, and the sport as a whole a undeserved black eye... or should I say orbital contusion, just to be safe?