Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn said Tuesday he is expected to be ready for the start of the NHL season.
Benn will not play for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey 2016, which will be held at Air Canada Centre in Toronto from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1. The 27-year-old had surgery July 14 to repair a core muscle injury sustained during offseason workouts and the six-week recovery timeline established by doctors ends this week.
"Giving everything I have to this organization is my main job, and I want to be ready to go when the season starts," Benn told the Dallas Morning News. "I'm 100 percent committed to the Stars. That's why we made the decision."
San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture will replace Benn on Team Canada.
"It's what you dream of growing up," Benn said. "It was a really tough decision."
But it's one that could ensure Benn is able to play in the Stars' season opener against the Anaheim Ducks at American Airlines Center on Oct. 13.
"We all talked and we all had a say, but the decision was ultimately Jamie's," Dallas general manager Jim Nill said. "He's disappointed, because I know he would like to be there. But to be fair to Canada and fair to Jamie, he's just not going to be ready on time. There is no bigger advocate of Hockey Canada than Jamie Benn. He would love to play for his country, but the timing of it just doesn't work.
"If he was playing for Canada, it would be pushing it. If he's just focused on the season opener, he'll be 100 percent ready. I think that's the good news, that we expect Jamie Benn to be ready to go as soon as the season starts."
After having surgery on each hip last summer. Benn played 82 games for a second straight season and finished second in the NHL with 89 points (41 goals, 48 assists), behind Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks (106 points). Benn was the third-leading goal-scorer in the League behind Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (50) and Kane (46).
Benn had five goals and 10 assists In 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games and finished third in voting for the Hart Trophy as League MVP.
Benn signed an eight-year, $76 million contract extension that runs through the 2024-25 season on July 15.
"I look at what we did last year, and it really worked out great," Benn said. "The doctors, the trainers, everyone was on the same page, and everything worked perfectly. So we're looking at doing the same thing this year."
The Stars went 50-23-9 to win the Central Division. They won a playoff series for the first time since 2008 but lost a seven-game series to the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Second Round. A healthy Benn and forward Tyler Seguin (33 goals, 40 assists), who missed the final 10 games of the regular season with a partially cut Achilles tendon and the last 11 playoff games because of a strained left calf, have Dallas in position to make another run at the Stanley Cup.
"We've put a lot of work in to get to this level and we want to move forward," Benn said. "You just want to do everything you can to make sure you play your best."