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Stars' Benn excited about initial All-Star experience

by Steve Hunt
DALLAS -- For the first time in his short, yet impressive career, Jamie Benn is an NHL All-Star. The Dallas Stars center has recently missed five games while recovering from an appendectomy but in 43 games this season he has 13 goals and is second on the Stars with 42 points.

Only close friend Loui Eriksson, himself an All-Star just one year ago, currently has more points on the team (43) than Benn. Eriksson was one of two All-Stars for Dallas in 2011. Brad Richards, who signed with the Rangers over the summer, was the other.

There's no doubt Benn has been front and center for any success Dallas has experienced this season. The somewhat quiet 22-year-old admits it only recently sunk in that he's an All-Star and it's something he's going to relish every minute of.

"It will be a good experience for me. It's going to be fun," Benn said. "I'm looking forward to it. (I'm most looking forward to) just the experience, seeing the other guys hanging out, it's pretty cool to be going."

But true to form, the unassuming young talent wasn't using his first All-Star trip as an opportunity to extol his own greatness. Instead, the British Columbia native was deflecting any praise to where he felt it should be directed, his teammates.


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"It's a nice honor. I'm happy to go. I've got to give a lot of credit to my teammates. They're the ones that got me here," Benn said. "I'm the only one on my team, but they're the ones that got me there. I wish I could take them with me."

And it's no secret his teammates have taken notice of not only how much Benn means to the Stars, but also how he continues to become an even better player on a daily basis.

"He's been playing real well for us. He's a really good guy out there. He makes some really nice plays out there, scores goals and helps the team out," Eriksson said. "He's going to have a real good time there, I think. It's fun to see him make it to the All-Star Game."

Benn is someone that current Stars coach Glen Gulutzan knew long before he ever became an All-Star and also prior to him becoming an NHL coach last summer. That's because the man currently behind the Dallas bench coached Benn in the AHL during the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs. So it's safe to say he's pretty proud of his versatile young Star and his first trip to the All-Star Game.

"Real special, what makes it better is just the type of person he is -- a real humble guy, a real winner, a burning desire to win," Gulutzan said. "Just a guy every coach wants to have and every fan roots for that type of guy."

Before he had to have his appendix out about 10 days ago, the season was going along pretty well for Benn. Not only was he recently named an All-Star for the first time, but earlier this year, he got to lace up his skates alongside older brother Jordie, a defenseman by trade, after he was recalled from the AHL while the Stars were thin along the blue line.

Jordie Benn had an assist in his NHL debut on Jan. 3 against Detroit. In fact, he and Jamie both assisted on a goal by Eriksson. Skating alongside his big brother was truly a dream come true for Jamie, much like being an All-Star.

"Pretty good start to 2012, yeah," Benn said. "It's something we always dreamed of growing up, playing together in the NHL. We got that chance. It was a really special time for us. For him to come up here and play, it was pretty cool. And getting nominated to the All-Star team was just icing on the cake.

"Yeah, (Jordie) thinks it's pretty cool. He was pretty happy for me. Hard work pays off. You put in the time and effort it's good to be rewarded for it."

When asked which fellow All-Star he is most looking forward to skating with in Ottawa, he offered an answer that might surprise some.

"Maybe (Pavel) Datsyuk, he's pretty cool. He's a player I like to watch," Benn said. "(Claude) Giroux, (Steven) Stamkos, all the top players in this League are pretty exciting to watch, and to get a chance to skate with them is pretty cool."

And when asked if being named an All-Star now means that the rest of the League now realizes something the fans and media in Dallas have known for some time -- that Benn is a rising star in the NHL -- he offered a trademark somewhat self-deprecating answer.

"Maybe a little bit, hopefully I can just hide in the weeds down here still. I like it down here. I'm fine with (being underrated)," Benn said.

Instead of chirping about his accomplishments on the ice, Benn has chosen to take a low-key approach and let his play do all the talking. The fact he isn't a big talker, one who gives verbose and often rambling answers to questions, has actually become something of a running joke with the Dallas media.

But since he is an All-Star, he knows that means he'll probably have a microphone or two stuck in his face in Ottawa. However, he'll be ready for whatever they have to ask.

"I'm going to have to come up with something to make up and let the media run with it," Benn said. "I need some Chris Pronger-type clichés. I like watching his interviews."
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