We continue our look at the candidates for the Dallas Stars captaincy...
Jamie Benn is the heart and soul of the Dallas Stars. Ever since his sophomore season in the NHL, he's been a special player for a franchise looking to find its way back to the top tier of NHL teams. There's a lot to love about Jamie Benn's game.
What makes Jamie Benn so dangerous every time he steps on the ice is the tremendous versatility the young winger has shown in his first few years in the league. He can beat you any way you like, play him tight and he can tangle through you or just protect the puck and go through you. Give him space and he can either turn on the jets and blast by you, or pull up and snipe from distance. Gang up on him and, well, you can ask the Vancouver Canucks and Columbus Bluejackets how that works out. On top of all that he can play great defense and is a real hound on the puck.
What makes Benn a great leader and prime candidate for the captaincy of the Stars, however, isn't just his skill, it's the way he carries himself on the ice. He never quits on a play, whether offensive or defensive, and uses whatever means necessary to get the job done. He can play smart stick-defense, or simply level the opposition. He's also no stranger to fighting, as he's taken on some of the toughest players in the league.
What this all comes down to is this: Jamie Benn is a battler. I'm not going to take the Jack Edwards route and compare his play to that of soldiers fighting wars; but Benn fights like no other on the ice. He's a high energy guy who has perfected the art of using his brutish force to create space for his skills to take over. Instead of getting fancy with his play, he forces his way into prime areas of the ice and then uses his skill to finish.
He plays in the mold of a Brenden Morrow, but with more skill. Morrow became a wonderful NHL captain because he more than made up for his lack of skill with the willingness to do battle in any form in order to win, and Jamie Benn has followed in his footsteps. He became the face of the Dallas Stars franchise at an unfortunate transitional period for the team and has carried the mantel very well. We have come to expect almost too much of the young winger, and even his very solid performance with a hurt wrist in a shortened season left a bit of a sour taste in everyone's mouth. Don't be fooled by the slight dip he took last year, Benn is the real deal and has the opportunity to become one of the best players in the NHL in the not so distant future.
One of the biggest concerns people have with giving Benn the captaincy is that he's too quiet and not enough of a media presence to truly be a great captain and face of a team. Furthermore, there's an idea that the captain's position would be handed to him just because he seems like he could be good.
While he may be quiet in the media, you have to remember he's a kid from Western Canada who was an afterthought in his draft year and suddenly thrust himself onto the big stage. He's not used to cameras and microphones in his face all the time, and some people are just generally quiet in front of crowds. His soft-spokenness in the media shouldn't be mistaken for being soft in the locker room.
Jamie Benn has emerged as one of the young leaders on his team, and while he may not make long, loud speeches in the locker room, he's always talking to his teammates and motivating them to get better; you can see glimpses of that on the bench when he gets riled up.
Furthermore, not every captain needs to be outspoken in the media. If you look at some of the best captains in the league, many of them are quiet. Jonathan Toews is known as ‘captain serious' because of his professional demeanor around the media; he speaks up when he needs to but he's a quiet guy overall. Even Sidney Crosby has only begun to come out of his shell to the media recently.
Jamie Benn doesn't need to be the flashy interview-giver after the pads come off and the mics get turned on. He needs to keep doing what he's always done for the Stars - lead by example. That is the best thing any captain can do. He's become a natural leader on the Stars by just playing his game and holding himself accountable. If he were to be the captain, you can be sure the rest of the team would follow suit because the most important thing a captain does is motivate guys to hold themselves accountable.
This isn't high school league or college, or even junior; this is the NHL, where everyone is and has been a professional hockey player. The team doesn't need speeches and yelling, it needs someone who will make every single player look himself in the mirror and ask "am I doing everything I can for my team?"; and the way he plays, Jamie Benn is just that man.
What do you think about the possibility of Benn becoming the captain of the Dallas Stars?