There were no hockey games this weekend.
When Eaves, Seguin and Hemsky all left the game against Florida, the Stars' hopes for the playoffs suddenly rested on the shoulders of their goaltenders (as always) and, more noticeably, their captain.
The game the following night in Colorado was almost unworthy of being labeled as such given the three new lines that had to be formed as Ruff rearranged his top six. Benn assisted on a Spezza goal, but the Stars never had much of a chance to come away from Pepsi Center with a win.
Ever since that game, Jamie Benn has more or less tried to beat every team by employing the brute force of his own willpower (and wicked shot). His efforts have certainly not gone unnoticed, as a hat trick will tend to have that effect:
Benn was named captain in September 2013, after Stars general manager Jim Nill was hired in April. A longtime assistant general manager with the Detroit Red Wings, Nill knows that first year as captain can be difficult. But he likes what he's seen from Benn.
"You're seeing more personality come out with him," Nill said. "It's just been kind of nice to see. He's a very sincere guy. He's a team guy. That's one of the reasons he's captain.
"He's just so much more comfortable now either coming to talk to me or talk to [coach Lindy Ruff]. It's nice to see the growth there."
Ruff agreed with Nill that Benn was the right choice as captain and the face of the Stars going forward.
"He's really opened up," Ruff said. "He's personable. He understands his role. The conversations (between he and I) are a lot easier and I think there's a comfort level with the relationship that we have."
Ruff has so much trust in Benn he lets him handle one of his customary duties as coach.
"A majority of the time, I don't go in the room after the game," Ruff said. "You'll hear him talking to the team, and that's all about growing. It's all about growing as a team and holding each other accountable. I don't think it's a one-man job. I think it's a committee job on our team where we have lots of good leaders, but he is the leader of all those leaders."
After Dallas made the playoffs last season and added Spezza and Ales Hemsky this offseason, expectations were high. But when the Stars struggled, much of the criticism was directed at Benn, who, like his team, didn't start well. But he remained confident and ignored what was being written about him.
"No, I can't read, so it's perfect," Benn said. "I know my parents, they like to read all that stuff because they're stuck up there in Canada. When they tell me they read stuff, I'm like, 'I don't really care.' I don't think too much good can come out of reading good or bad, so I try and just stay away from that."
How Benn's leadership evolves after the (we think) departure of a few of the veterans on the team will be interesting to see. He drew some criticism for his remark on the radio a little while back, of course, but that may prove to be just a bump in the road as Benn continues to mature in his dealings with the media.
As the team's leader-in-the-ranks, Jamie Benn will soon need to elevate his leadership in the locker room in the same way that he has tried to put the team on his back over the last week on the ice. My bet would be that he does just fine.
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Here are some links that can be clicked. Go on and give it a try...if you dare.
This is a fun little piece about the similarities between the shove on Lehtonen last night that (that went uncalled by the ref literally three feet away) and another Detroit/Dallas shove in the NFL playoffs this year. There's some eerie Lincoln/Kennedy parallels going on here. [DMN]
Jamie Benn is being pointed to by Detroit players as giving Henrik Zetterberg a possible concussion when he gave him a gloved shot to the helmet Saturday. [Detroit Free Press]
Mike Heika says that the Detroit game was a microcosm of the Stars' season. True dat. [DMN]
Not that I want to think about the Detroit game any more, but I hadn't noticed the dancing idiot behind the glass after Kari chucked his stick. Makes for a pretty HQ GIF, if I do say so. [CBS Sports]
The Canucks were dealt a blow to their playoff aspirations last night, as Ryan Miller left the game after a teammate slid into him. Looks like a knee injury. [SB Nation]
Tuukka Rask was also frustrated after getting penalized for touching the puck in the no-no zone, so he decided to slam his stick against the post, which was unfortunately partially hidden behind Kris Versteeg's hip. Two goalie penalties in just a few seconds? Impressive. [Pro Hockey Talk]
Sean Couturier received what could have been a nasty knee by Matt Niskanen, but it sounds like Couturier will be all right. [CSN Philly]
Jared Cowen put what was a nasty hit on the Juice; supplemental discipline will be forthcoming. Stupid play. [CBS Sports]
Finally, Jason Chimera got a free uppercut in on Zac Rinaldo that pretty much everyone is okay with. Rinaldo should not be in this league: