Dallas Stars president Jim Lites and general manager Jim Nill couldn't believe what they were watching during the summer, because two years ago something as small as forward Jamie Benn leading a group of men through offseason workouts seemed so unlikely, so out of character.
"He's like the pied piper now," Lites said. "You'd never think a veteran like Ales Hemsky is going to be following anybody around, but there he is, Jamie Benn leading him around like a little kid. There are probably a dozen guys who have that capability in the League."
Benn is best known for winning the Art Ross Trophy last season with 87 points, including 10 in his final three games, to edge New York Islanders captain John Tavares by one point. Lites, Nill and others know Benn differently; for who he is and what he means to the Stars.
It's in large part because of Benn's maturation into a leader that Nill, Lites and coach Lindy Ruff believe the Stars are poised to take the next step and become a legitimate contender in the Western Conference this season.