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Catching up with Jamie Benn

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars players continue to arrive in Frisco to skate in preparation for training camp, and among those rolling into town this week was Jamie Benn.

It was a quiet summer for the Stars captain, who said his routine consisted of offseason preparation and recreation.

“A lot of golf,” he said. “Relaxed, worked out, not too much or too exciting.”

Benn’s summer may have been quiet, but it was a busy offseason for the Stars. He was excited as he watched GM Jim Nill retool the team’s roster in July. Nill traded for center Jason Spezza, signed right wings Ales Hemsky and Patrick Eaves and beefed up the goaltending depth behind Kari Lehtonen with the signings of Anders Lindback and Jussi Rynnas.

“Very excited about the players we got. I think they are going to make a big difference in our team,” Benn said. “We’ve got great competition now to backup Kari. Bringing in Spezza and Hemsky are going to give us two solid top lines now. I think our forward group is looking pretty sharp and hopefully our D can continue their good play from last year.”

The additions of Spezza and Hemsky to the top six forward group will take some of the heat off Benn and Tyler Seguin, who saw the opposition’s top defenders on a nightly basis. The Stars now will be able to roll out two strong offensive lines and which line opponents try to shut down won’t be as easy.

“I think it is going to make harder decisions for other teams,” Benn said. “I think last year Seguin, Val and I got the top two D men on every team, and in this league those two guys are usually pretty good. The other teams are going to have to make decisions. It’s going to be nice, but it’s still going to be a challenge.”

It wasn’t that long ago that Benn was playing center for the Stars, moved from his natural wing position to help fill a void. Now the team looks much different up the middle with two elite centers in Seguin and Spezza. Benn, now back at wing, gives a stick tap to Nill.

“That’s really taken a 180 ever since Jim got here,” Benn said. “It is one of the most important positions in hockey other than the goalie. You need strength down the middle, especially in our division and our conference. With all the big centers in the West, you need guys like that.”

The Stars are coming off their first trip to the playoffs in five seasons and the first time in Benn’s four-year NHL career. The first round loss to Anaheim was tough, especially the sixth and final game when the Stars blew a two-goal lead late in the third period and then lost in overtime. But Benn said that is part of the process of a young team learning to win.

“You have to learn to lose before you can learn to win and we definitely lost and not the way we wanted to lose. It’s all part of the game and we can learn from that,” Benn said. “It’s going to be nice that now we have a year under our belt in the playoffs and we are such a young team. I think that was big for us, just to learn what it takes to win in the playoffs and how hard it actually is. You can’t take a minute off or you are on the golf course. It was a tough way to lose, but it was good for our team.”

Benn said with last season’s step forward in making the playoffs and this summer’s roster moves, there is a lot of optimism among the players about the upcoming season.

“It’s pretty similar to last year when guys were excited getting Tyler and Rich [Peverley] here. It’s more of the same this year with the guys that we brought in,” Benn said. “We’re an excited group. We’re ready to go and we can’t wait to get training camp underway and see what we can do. … It was nice to get a taste of the playoffs and it definitely makes you hungry for more. As I said, it wasn’t fun the way we lost and it makes myself and the guys hungry to improve this year and show the West what we can do.”

Stars hit the ice

Here is a list of the players who have skated in Frisco the past couple weeks.

Goaltenders: Kari Lehtonen, Anders Lindback, Jussi Rynnas

Defensemen: Jordie Benn, Trevor Daley, Alex Goligoski, Sergei Gonchar, John Klingberg, Jamie Oleksiak

Forwards: Jamie Benn, Erik Cole, Patrick Eaves, Vernon Fiddler, Scott Glennie, Shawn Horcoff, Valeri Nichushkin, Colton Sceviour, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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