As part of our look back at the season that was, the DBD staff has put together a Top 10 list of the most defining moments of the season, moments that have an impact beyond the scope of just one season. Since most of these happened off the ice and built upon many of the previous moments, they are listed in chronological order.
Let me take you back to last September,
So looking stiff in a starched white shirt and tie and with quite a bit of gel controlling his hair, Benn pushed his way through his prepared remarks before looking at least somewhat more natural taking questions from the assembled media.
It was adorable (well, as adorable as a 6-foot-2 hockey player who could squash people in a fight can be), but it also showed a little bit of why fans weren't quite sure he was ready for the captaincy. After all, one of the roles of a captain is to be a mouthpiece the media can turn to in tough situations, a public face of the team both on and off the ice. And Benn, while much improved from earlier in his career, still seemed quite uncomfortable as the focus of a press conference.
Heck, he didn't even pronounce Mike Modano's name right.
And while there was a lot of hoped pinned on Benn's ample shoulders, it seemed like it took him a little bit to setting into the extra responsibility. After a lights-out preseason, the Stars stumbled a bit out of the gate, and Benn only had one goal in his first seven games. Another 11-game stretch without a goal from November into December left everyone scratching their heads.
Once things clicked, though, they clicked for good and it became clear that naming him captain had been absolutely the right decision. Benn got rolling in mid-December, scoring 27 goals in the final 52 games of the regular season, exactly a goal ever other game. And he spent a fair amount of time both before and after he got rolling in the goal-scoring department setting up linemate Tyler Seguin.
But even outside than the points he was putting up, Benn's game seemed to blossom as the group of young Stars forwards looked to him to set an example. He cut well back on the number of silly penalties, though he still had his moments, and he picked his spots when challenged to fights. Even so, he was the Stars physical leader on many nights even though he wasn't taking the bait every time a fourth-liner came looking for a piece of him.
Every time it seemed like the bar was raised for Benn, whether that was when he popped up on the radar of Team Canada for the Olympics or when he and Seguin were called on to carry the offense through long stretches of the season, he was able to rise to the occasion.
When the team went through, well, everything in March, he not only scored big goals on the ice (including a goal 30 seconds in after the Modano jersey retirement ceremony and the overtime winner against the Blues the night after the Rich Peverley incident) but was a go-to, if not particularly compelling, quote.
Things came full circle on that great night in April, when the Stars manhandled an undermanned Blues roster and earned their way back to the playoffs. The Stars' PR staff handed Benn the microphone, and he addressed the sold-out American Airlines Center with immeasurably more confidence, though still a bit too much hair gel.
It was just one year, though it was a challenging one. The Stars still have plenty of steep roads ahead of them for Benn to help them navigate.
But now, one year in to his captaincy, no one thinks it was too soon anymore.