BROSSARD - Jordie Benn won't have to wait too long before hitting the Bell Centre ice in a Canadiens uniform.
The 29-year-old defenseman will get that opportunity on Tuesday night as Claude Julien's contingent looks to pick up its third straight victory with John Tortorella's Columbus Blue Jackets in town.
Acquired in a trade with the Dallas Stars on Monday afternoon, Benn paid a visit to the Bell Sports Complex on Tuesday morning to check out his new practice digs, meet his new teammates and coaches, and hit the ice for a brief workout before addressing the media in the Canadiens' locker room.
Video: Jordie Benn skates in Brossard
"I've never seen so many cameras in front of me. It's obviously different than in Dallas, but it's great. Growing up, everyone got to know the Canadiens and the history of the team. I'm excited to be here," said Benn, who will proudly sport No. 8 in front of his new fans against the Blue Jackets. "It's just another city to play a sport I love. Coming to Montreal, it's pretty crazy. It's going to be a lot of fun."
In all honesty, though, Benn confirmed that news of the deal shipping him to the Eastern Conference caught him by surprise. The six-year NHL veteran, who hails from Victoria, BC, didn't expect to be moved leading up to the time his phone rang while he was spending quality time with his brother - and now former housemate - Stars captain Jamie Benn.
"Obviously, I was just shocked. I was sitting back home with my brother. It was just one of those things, you see the phone start ringing and all of a sudden, you're like - "Uh oh." But, I asked where was I going and then he said Montreal, and I couldn't be happier. This is hockey heaven here and I'm excited," said Benn, who amassed 11 goals and 71 points in 302 career games with Dallas since debuting in 2011-12, including two goals and 15 points in 58 outings this season.
"He was more shocked than I was," added Benn, regarding his younger brother's reaction to the news that he was Montreal-bound mere days before the trade deadline. "He was like - "Well, let's start packing up, let's get ready." I think I was packed and out of the house in an hour. It was a quick turnaround and I'm here."
Now, Benn is primed to move on to a brand new chapter in his hockey career - and make a name for himself in the process - without Jamie by his side.
"I often heard that in Dallas from the fans, that I was basically hidden behind a superstar, which is true - my brother is an incredible player, so yes, I have the chance to come here and be Jo Benn and not Jamie Benn's brother, which is good," said Benn, who is clearly eager to put his skills on display and prove his worth to the Canadiens' brass from the start. "He's doing great things there [in Dallas] and it's time for me to move on and do my thing."
Before Jordie departed Dallas, though, Jamie was kind enough to reach out to one member of the Canadiens, in particular, on his elder brother's behalf - assistant captain, Shea Weber - who met up with the newest Hab upon his arrival at the team's practice facility at around 9:15 a.m. EST for a quick chat, some breakfast and a personal tour.
"My brother texted Webby for me and passed my number along. We got in touch after the game last night. He just said - "Happy you're here." Now, it's time to rock and roll," said Benn, who is looking forward to getting to know Weber and the rest of the group in the days and weeks to come. "They're a very good team. They've got a lot of great players. I saw him when I first walked in here and he showed me around. Obviously, it's a great locker room."
Benn will likely get to know goaltender Carey Price rather quickly, too, especially with the rearguard's penchant for blocking shots and keeping pucks from reaching the net. At the time the former BCHL standout left the Lone Star State, he was actually leading the Stars with 113 blocked shots on the year.
"Everyone knows just how good he is, so it definitely has a calming effect on players," said Benn, on the subject of Price's All-World body of work between the pipes. "There isn't any panic in his game. He's calm and cool in front of the net, so I should be calm and cool in front of him."
While Benn indicated a preference to play on the right side - where he played all season long in Dallas - it wouldn't faze him if he was asked to switch things up at any point in time. He'd simply adapt to the change. No matter his assignment, though, he plans on staying true to the style of hockey that made him the fourth-most utilized defenseman on Lindy Ruff's roster since mid-October.
"I'm not really supposed to put the puck in the net, but I can contribute offensively. It's fine. My job is to keep the puck far away from our net and move it up to the forwards," said Benn, who prides himself on being a "stay-at-home" defenseman in every sense of the word. "As long as I can move my feet and give them the puck with a good first pass, things will be good."
Welcome aboard, Jordie! Have a good one tonight!