In that always melancholy final day of the regular season, the Dallas Stars players and coaches met with the media as they cleaned out their lockers for the summer.
The big news out of clean-out day, as always, was the various health ailments the players were battling throughout the year. And in this season of the hip injury, which started with John Klingberg at the end of the 2013-14 regular season, it probably should be no surprise that two more players are on the docket for hip surgery.
The most important of those is none other than the newly crowned Art Ross Trophy winner Jamie Benn:
Stars GM Jim Nill said Jamie Benn will have hip surgery. Said Benn was dealing with the injury all season. Should be ready for training camp— Owen Newkirk (@OwenNewkirk) April 13, 2015
Benn will have about four to five months of rehab following the surgery.— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) April 13, 2015
There were rumblings about Benn playing injured for most of the season, especially when his production slowed in early November and the month of December. Those mostly went away as his points-per-game mark started to climb in 2015, but it's obvious the injury itself never went away - he just learned the best way to play through it.
Just think about that for a second - Benn won the Art Ross Trophy and outscored every player in the league on a bad hip. He scored 10 points, five of them goals, in his final three games and was named the NHL's No. 1 star of the week on that bad hip.
Jamie Benn is an absolute beast. And this quote is so very him:
Jamie Benn when asked about injuries: "I played all 82 games." He really did tough it out through the hip pain. Will have surgery soon.— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) April 13, 2015
The crew on BaDD Radio tried to get more information from Benn about the injury during a radio interview Monday afternoon, and the exchange was so understated and amusing, his answers are reproduced here in their entirety.
So he's going to get surgery this offseason?
"I think it sounds a lot worse than it is. I’m just going to go in and get a little hip surgery and call her a day. Get some rehab and be ready to go for next year."
Not going to share details about it, eh?
"It’s a secret."
Is it the same surgery Klingberg had?
"It could be, yeah."
And just one hip?
"It could be one, it could be two. I’m not sure."
Well played, Jamie Benn. Well played.
His bosses were not nearly as reserved about heaping praise on their captain for playing through the injury, up to and including general manager Jim Nill.
There were a lot of nights when we thought he wouldn’t be playing, but he came to us and said, ‘No, I’m a player.’ That’s Jamie Benn. We didn’t hear about it all season. That’s Jamie Benn. To gut it out the way he did shows we’ve got a great leader on this team.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff sung Benn's praises as well in the same article:
He had a hell of a year. He was hurting and got through it, he was hurting for most of the year. But he really grew as a captain. From a guy who wouldn’t say too much, his leadership on the team really grew and that was a big positive from this year.
Also needing hip surgery is Ales Hemsky, who has been battling the injury for most of the year according to Nill. As much as Benn's injury explains his down months, it really lends credence to the Hemsky that the Stars saw this year not being what they expect for the next few seasons. Hemsky's game, to a much larger extent than Benn's, is built exclusively on speed and elusiveness, things that get markedly hampered by hip injuries that take away mobility.
Knowing that two of his biggest weapons were hampered certainly explains why Hemsky didn't quite look like the same player from the past few seasons.
For those playing the home game, that's four hip surgeries - Klingberg, Valeri Nichushkin, Benn and Hemsky - in a little more than a year.
According to Heika, there are four Stars confirmed on their way to the World Championships in May. Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and Cody Eakin will all be playing for Nill with Team Canada while Antoine Roussel will play for Le Tricolor.
It's a little surprising to see Seguin on that list given his knee injury. Assuming everything is on track with his knee, though, more ice time won't hurt him, and he likely wants to erase a bad taste in his mouth from the way the season ended.