The Dallas Stars have a new general manager, a new coach and new uniforms this season. Now they have a new captain.
Fifth-year forward Jamie Benn, the Stars' top scorer last season, was named Thursday as the sixth captain since the franchise moved to Dallas 20 years ago. The role had been vacant since Brenden Morrow was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in March.
"He's a fierce competitor, he leads by example and he wants to win," first-year GM Jim Nill said of Benn. "The bigger the game the bigger he plays. We've talked in the organization about being an everyday player and Jamie exemplifies that. It's about guys that come to play every day, bring it in practice every day on the ice and off it. That's what Jamie is going to bring as we continue to grow this organization."
Benn, 24, led the Stars with 33 points last season. A 2007 fifth-round pick (No. 129), he has 82 goals and 193 points in 263 NHL games. He served as an alternate captain last season.
"I am not going to change anything just because I am wearing the 'C.' I am who I am," Benn said. "I want to go out on the ice and lead by example. That's what I do best, play hard for my teammates. I want to keep doing that and set a good example on and off the ice.
"In the NHL, one thing is certain. The most successful teams don't have just one leader. We saw with Derian Hatcher and the 1999 Stanley Cup champions, he had a room full of great leaders," Benn said. "When I look at our team today, I see a lot of the same things: a group of established veterans who know how to win in this League."
Two of those established veterans, Ray Whitney and Stephane Robidas, will serve as alternates. The Stars have other vets with leadership experience as, including Shawn Horcoff, who was captain of the Edmonton Oilers until the Stars acquired him this summer.
"We have plenty of leaders in that locker room. We have several Stanley Cup winners in that locker room," said Whitney, who was part of the Carolina Hurricanes' 2006 Stanley Cup championship team. "We have plenty of guys who can speak up when they need to. He's not alone in this. I think it will be a fairly easy transition. All he is going to have to focus on is the on-ice stuff; all the off-ice stuff he has help with."
Benn will try to lead the rebuilding Stars back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after an absence of five years.
"It's all on us now," Benn said. "Not making the playoffs for five years is not what we want. With the players we brought in and the people surrounding them, it's our time to do it and this is the year.
"You have my word that we will come to the rink each and every day and play hard for each other and play hard for this organization. Now it's our turn as a team to prove that to our fans and to the League."