When the Stars traded a bag of pucks and Loui Eriksson to the Boston Bruins for Tyler Seguin, as hard as it is to believe now, the move was viewed as risky from a Stars' perspective.
I guess you could say that was a win for Jim Nill.
Last year Dallas claimed the number one seed in the Western Conference and came within a Game 7 victory of the Western Conference Finals. Players, coaches, and fans know that the window is open for the Stars. But the next steps are hard to take. Just ask Alex Ovechkin.
The 2013-14 season was the beginning of the Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin era in Dallas, and neither player has looked back. Since that first season of 'Bennguin’, Benn has scored 110 goals with 145 helpers and Seguin has lit the lamp 107 times with 127 assists.
While those numbers are impressive all by themselves, they don’t tell the whole story of the dynamic duo.
It is difficult to put into words what the pair has meant to the team. Benn’s brutish run through the league since Seguin’s arrival has garnered national (and Canadian, sorry, Canadien) attention.
With hands like Vicuna cashmere and the competitiveness to boot, Benn has taken over games like none seen in a Stars sweater, ever. Mike Modano scored some incredible goals. Modano was fast and electric. But Benn takes over games like he is the Alpha male. Through the sheer tyranny of will. Sometimes it is a goal, other times it might be a hit, or a pass, or a fight. He has a sixth sense that all generational players seem to have, he knows how to change gears and spark a team.
There are no players like Jamie Benn in the National Hockey League. If Washington offered Jim Nill Alex Ovechkin for Jamie Benn, they would be answered by a dial tone (those still exist, right?). Steven Stamkos? Click. Max Pacioretty? Jonathan Toews? Patrick Kane? Vladamir Tarasenko? Click. Click. Click. Click.
Tyler Seguin was pacing the NHL in goal scoring last season before a slump and then injury. His speed gives teams fits. Everyone knows his spot on the power play and it doesn’t matter. Seguin is a blood-thirsty goal scorer.
Since joining the Stars, Seguin has averaged 0.96 points per game. He is twenty-four years old. According to most NHL careers, Seguin has not even entered his prime.
There are many ways to lead a team. Seguin may not have a letter on his chest, but he is an undisputed leader for the Stars. Rumors out of Boston cast him as a Sour-Patch kid in Neverland that would never grow up. When Seguin scores, typically his first look is to the guy that passed him the puck. Often times you can even read his lips through his beaming smile, "Nice pass!"
Benn and Seguin feed off of each other in many ways. Both guys aren’t afraid to step to the mic after a loss blaming themselves, but after win they heap praise on the role-players. At times, each has been criticized for not being selfish enough. Not a bad worst case scenario, eh?
Dallas is a fickle sports town. Dallas tends to root for a winner and grow apathetic towards a loser (The Dallas Cowboys being the only exception). It isn’t a new phenomenon or one that is unique to DFW, it is just humans being humans. Frankly, there are other options on a Saturday night.
That apathy for a loser had reached an all-time high prior to the hostile takeover of Benn and Seguin. Of course the growth in popularity was steady, but there was a spike last year.
For the first time since 2008-09, the Stars won a playoff series. I had friends that didn’t know what
icing (bad example) a power play was, blowing up my phone after Game 6 in Minnesota. The Stars were back!
All of that being said, what are the expectations of Benn and Seguin entering the 2016-17 season? They are astronomical.
You see, this is no longer, “aww look the Stars won a game!” The team is breaking into DFW sports radio and TV, grabbing inches of column space, and making appearances on TSN (the consummate honor).
If the Stars fail, by whatever metric you like, ultimately the blame falls of the shoulders of Benn and Seguin. What is the cost of success? People expect you to do it again, but better this time.
Are Benn and Seguin up to the task?
Time and time again both players have risen above expectations. Benn from the fifth round of the draft, and Seguin after his unceremonious departure from Boston. This will be a new challenge.
Only time will tell.