Reaction Pours In for Jamie Benn's Victory In Art Ross Trophy Race
The Stars captain got congratulations from all corners of the hockey world Saturday night after his furious finish earned him the NHL's scoring title.
It seemed like Jamie Benn played the entire final three minutes against the Nashville Predators on Saturday night as his Dallas Stars teammates tried to cap off the regular season with not only a win, but a place for their captain on the Art Ross Trophy.
In reality, at least according to NHL.com's Time on Ice report, Benn only played 2:18 of the final 2:54, getting a quick break after his ice-length empty-net goal (a stick tap to the Metroplex's own Seth Jones, who didn't quite get his foot on that puck in neutral ice).
The goal, and the assist in the dying seconds of the season that followed, capped off a furious final seven games for the Stars captain that resulted in the franchise's first Art Ross trophy.
Stars Twitter, as demonstrated by the feed from my phone, was a little excited, other than the always unflappable Mark Stepneski:
Those fine folks weren't the only ones to chime in on the accomplishment.
Benn's teammates, especially those who have been with him a long time, said they were extremely proud of how Benn has developed from a fifth-round pick with questions around his skating into the most prolific scorer in the NHL.
"He’s a true definition of a captain," Trevor Daley told the media after the game. "He’s the poster child for this team, at least inside this dressing room. He’s our leader. He’s the guy we look to when we’re down. He’s the guy that has put us on his back and carried us. It’s been special to watch. I’ve been able to see him since he came in as an 18 year old and it’s been special to watch him."
The full quote set from Lindy Ruff is also interesting in several respects.
I think it was obvious that the whole team was trying to help him out. He gave it everything he had. The first shot was a great shot and the power play redirection was a really good play by Klinger (John Klingberg). Then he got the opportunity at the empty netter and the last goal was just getting above the puck and trying to make the guy pass it through him and being on the right side of it. We’ve talked a lot about being on the right side of the puck and it led to the point that clinched it for him.
He played through a lot. His second half of the year was a pretty special second half and to dig in when Tyler (Seguin) got hurt, I thought he really found his game from that point on. What he did was special, that doesn’t happen very often. To end up winning the league scoring title is an incredible accomplishment. It’s something that, as a coach, you’re proud to see one of your players accomplish that. Every teammate was cheering him on from the bench and there was a couple of guys trying to talk me into pulling the goalie but I wasn’t going to be that radical. I know I pull him at some odd times but, first and foremost, we’re going to win a game.
Two points Ruff makes deserve further recognition. The first is that the trophy-clinching point, which a second assist, resulted from exactly the type of play you can argue the Stars lacked at times this season - a simple, solid and defensively-minding positioning stop in the offensive zone. Benn's block of the Predators' attempted clearing pass not only ended up in the back of the net two players later, but it also prevented the Preds from going the other way against a pressing Stars offense.
That seems fitting, especially at the team gets ready to answer some tough questions about how to fix the goals against problem this summer.
The second is how much this race meant to his teammates, even to the point of suggesting Ruff pull the goalie at an absurd time. We saw that same interest in Anaheim when Tyler Seguin was checking with the NBCSN announcing crew about Alex Ovechkin's night, and we saw it again with the reaction from the Stars tonight.
I mean seriously. Look at his brother on the bench:
GIF: Jordie Benn/Sasquatch on camera celebrates his brother clinching the Art Ross cc @t_rex20_ pic.twitter.com/CqirTXLMKT— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 12, 2015
Daley also had a huge grin on his face when the camera follows Benn back onto the bench after the final assist.
Former teammates of Benn's, whether on the Stars or Team Canada, also offered their congratulations.
Congrats to @jamiebenn14 on his Art Ross trophy. Knew this kid was special first day we saw him in… https://t.co/9fdtlBUSOm— Brenden Morrow (@Minimo1zero) April 12, 2015
@jamiebenn14 what a finish! .— Steve Ott (@otterN9NE) April 12, 2015
Heck of an accomplishment @jamiebenn14 .— Eric Nystrom (@enystrom23) April 12, 2015
Carey Price (@CP0031) April 12, 2015
To put some things in perspective, as Sean McIndoe reminded us, Jamie Benn was given 50-1 odds at the Art Ross Trophy at the start of this season. The Stars as a team, meanwhile, were given a 20-1 shot at the Stanley Cup.
In terms of team rankings, the oddsmakers gave him the same chance at winning the scoring title as they did the Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils of winning the Cup.
Yes, it's a pale second to being in a playoff race. But seeing a team so clearly invested in the success of their captain was a sight to behold nonetheless.
Congratulations, Jamie Benn. We have watched you grow from a happy surprise at prospect camp to an impressive rookie and now unquestionably one of the best players in the NHL.