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World Cup

Jamie Benn hopes to be ready for World Cup

Stars captain, who had surgery this month, aims to play for Team Canada

by Steve Hunt / Correspondent

FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn hopes to be ready to play for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 in September.

Benn, 27, had surgery July 14 for a core muscle injury sustained during offseason workouts. He signed an eight-year, $76 million contract extension July 15 that runs through the 2024-25 NHL season.

"I think this is a surgery that I'm able to come back a little quicker than double-hip surgery (he had in May 2015)," Benn said after an event at Stars headquarters Saturday. "That's the main focus I'm training towards being able to make it for World Cup. We'll just see what happens." 

The left wing said he expects to return to the ice in the coming week. The tournament begins Sept. 17.

"I feel pretty good," Benn said. "I'm making progress. Much like last summer [when I was recovering from double-hip surgery], these things take time. The hardest part is just trying not to do too much too early. We're sticking to the rehab program and working our way forward."

Benn was second in the NHL with 89 points and third with 41 goals playing 82 games for the second consecutive season in 2015-16. He finished third in voting for the Hart Trophy as League MVP.

In 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games for the Stars last season, Benn had five goals and 15 points. The Stars won the Central Division with 109 points and were the top seed in the Western Conference but lost in seven games to the St. Louis Blues in the second round.

Video: Ja. Benn nets rebound, ties game

Benn said his first two weeks of rehab have included little activity, but he hopes to start ramping things up next week.

"Well, the last two weeks have been pretty boring, not doing too much, letting it heal and recover," Benn said. "Doing little exercises here and there, but I think this week I could be able to pick it up a bit and possibly even skate later in the week."

Benn and teammate Tyler Seguin, who missed all but one of Dallas' playoff games with calf and Achilles injuries, will have their first Team Canada practice Sept. 5. The World Cup runs through Oct. 1 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

A fifth-round pick (No. 129) at the 2007 NHL Draft, Benn, who won the Art Ross Trophy as the League leader with 87 points in 2014-15, has 192 goals and 448 points in 508 regular-season games.

Benn has been Stars captain the past three seasons and said the thought of leaving Dallas never entered his mind during the two-week negotiation process between the Stars and his agent, Rich Evans.

"I fell in love with Dallas, Texas ever since I got down here," Benn said. "Here I am sticking around here year-round. I have all the belief in [general manager] Jim Nill and the coaching staff around here that we're going to do something special. [Nill] is a smart man, he's an unbelievable guy and an easy guy to talk to. I've definitely built a relationship around him. We have the same goals and I want to do it as a Dallas Star."

When Benn's extension begins after this season, he will be tied with Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins for fourth-highest average annual value ($9.5 million) in the NHL, according to General Fanager. Only Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks ($10.5 million), Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings ($10 million) and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals ($9.538 million) are ahead of Benn.

Video: Reactions to Team Canada's preliminary roster

He admits his new salary may seem lucrative, but one thing remains crystal clear: Benn's desire to help the Stars win the Stanley Cup, something Dallas hasn't done since 1999.

"It's still pretty surreal," Benn said of his extension. "I learned how to be a professional later than the other kids, but this is what I want to do and I'm putting all my time and effort into being the best player I can be for this hockey club."

Benn takes pride in what he and the Stars have accomplished but looks ahead with great optimism and a belief that the best years are to come.

"I think they definitely are," Benn said. "We've got a good core in here and we can only build off that. It's not hard to see that Jim has changed this team quite a bit in three years, and I'm definitely happy to be a part of it."

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