Tyler Seguin will not play tonight after missing practice on Friday. Erik Cole and Cody Eakin were both scratched earlier in the season for violating team rules. Lindy Ruff made a statement today by scratching Seguin that no one is above team rules.
"We're strict on our team rules," Seguin said. "I wasn't on time for practice and I knew what the consequences would be. It's a tough feeling. It's something I'll live with for the rest of the off-season, and I'm going to work hard and get ready to come back even better."
Seguin gets it. He knew he messed up and it appears that he's taking his punishment in the right way. He acknowledged the selfish result of his benching too:
"That's the biggest thing that sucks," Seguin said. "It's not even about me, I feel bad for Jamie, just because I knew I could have helped him tonight. It's disappointing for myself and embarrassing for myself, but it's disappointing that I couldn't help my captain out, as well."
This does hurt Jamie Benn's ability to win the Art Ross Trophy tonight. He's an incredibly talented player who can do it without Seguin, but undoubtedly Seguin would help.
What Ruff is saying here is that no one is above team rules. Everyone is accountable to the same rules. That's the way things should be. This situation should have never happened. It has happened, and the person administering the justice isn't at fault. The person who committed the infraction is to blame.
Consistency in enforcing rules is important when you're in Ruff's shoes. Everyone has to know where they stand. The people under you need to know clear expectations for how they should conduct themselves. When there isn't clarity that's usually when problems arise. By benching Seguin Ruff is publicly showing consistency in how he disciplines his players. And that's a good thing.
It would be easy to praise Ruff for sticking to his guns here, but let's call this decision what it is: easy. The Stars are out of the playoffs. For the team there is very little on the line. The decision to bench Seguin comes with very little collateral damage. Benn's ability to score points and push for the Art Ross will be hampered a little bit, but if he doesn't make it this benching will be a minor reason why. The benefits of maintaining consistency outweigh the costs of benching Seguin.
What if the Stars were still in the playoff hunt today? How does Ruff respond? Benching Seguin would severely hurt the rest of the team, organization, fans, and potentially the pocket book by risking playoff revenue. Would he have benched Seguin then? I can't imagine he would have.
The fact that we have to ask this question is why this situation is a problem. The Stars have to be able to rely on their core group at all times. Everyone makes mistakes. Seguin will learn from this and grow. He's still incredibly young. His response shows that he knows he was in the wrong, but the Stars need him to take that next maturity step so that this situation doesn't happen at a time when it really matters.
The benching sucks for all of us. This was the last chance to see Seguin play until September. Everyone loses here. It gives an easy punchline for a fan favorite to be benched on Fan Appreciation Night, but make no mistake here about how this plays out. Ruff holding everyone accountable when it doesn't hurt the playoff chances is a move of fan appreciation because Ruff is making this move for the long term good of the franchise. It's up to Seguin to learn from this and not let it happen again.