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Invigorated Benn guiding way - and keeping up - with speedy linemates

Paired with youngsters Gurianov and Hintz, the Dallas captain has wasted no time making an impact in camp

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

FRISCO, Texas -- Jamie Benn laughed on the first day of training camp when asked how it is playing on a line with young speedsters Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz.

"I'm just trying to catch up with them all of the time," Benn said after practice Monday.

In their first scrimmage together on Wednesday, Benn caught up pretty well. The 31-year-old Stars captain had two goals and helped make that line the most noticeable in the scrimmage.


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"Jamie can skate and he can keep up with those guys and he gives them some experience, so we want to see what it looks like," Stars coach Rick Bowness said when asked why he decided to put the line together. "We're going to give it a good look. They made some great plays today. That was a good first scrimmage for them."

Benn has played in the past on a line with Tyler Seguin, but Seguin is out until March after offseason hip surgery. He played some on a line with Radek Faksa and Blake Comeau when Andrew Cogliano was injured in the playoffs, but that duo is back with Cogliano again in training camp. So why not try Benn with Hintz and Gurianov, probably the two fastest players on the team? While the speedsters play a different style than Benn, Bowness said that can sometimes be a good thing.

Benn got in open ice early in the second half of the scrimmage and lifted a pretty shot past Jake Oettinger. He then was tripped by Julius Honka and scored on the ensuing penalty shot. Instead of power plays in the scrimmage, they often give penalty shots.

Video: Pavelski, Stars 'ready to get back after it'

The line was hands down the most dangerous on the ice.

"It's still really early in camp, but those scrimmages start to tell you something about yourself," said center Joe Pavelski, who worked out with Benn as they prepared for training camp.

"I think being around him a little before we came back, you see a guy that's been working hard and has been wanting to keep his game at a high level. He has an understanding that these practices are meaningful. There's a directness in his game and that allows him to come out and get a few good looks. We understand there's a level we need to get to in a hurry."

That same attitude was important in the bubble, as Benn led an offseason workout at his house before the Return to Play, and then was a vocal leader once the Stars got to Edmonton and were forced to hunker down in a hotel for two months.

"He took a big step forward in the playoffs," Bowness said. "He's always been the inspirational leader and emotional leader and he really helped carry us in the playoffs. There were so many good things he was doing in the locker room or in the hotel between games. He led by example, that's for sure, and he engaged with all of the players there and helped all of them.

Video: Bowness talks scrimmage, pairing Benn with speedsters

"He really was our leader from the moment we got there."

Benn said he knew that keeping all players involved was important, so he bonded with the younger depth players, as well as the veterans. In the end, it was a huge emotional investment that left him spent.

When the Stars lost Game 6 to Tampa Bay and lost the Stanley Cup, Benn was the last player remaining in the dressing room and the scene was caught on video as a lasting image of how hard it was on the captain.

"It was just a tough situation," he said. "Two wins from winning the Stanley Cup. You work hard your whole life to achieve that goal and it didn't happen … so it was just a tough situation."

Now, he's invigorated again and might be getting a boost from some young linemates.

"Those two have excellent speed," he said. "We're going to try to improve and stick together and get better every day."



» The Stars broke into two teams and had two scrimmage sessions. Benn scored two goals and linemate Gurianov had one for the White Team. Rhett Gardner had two goals for Team Green, and Miro Heiskanen won the game in overtime for Green.

» Joel Hanley, Joel L'Esperance and Jason Robertson each missed the scrimmage, because they were "unfit" to participate -- the NHL's term to describe any injury or illness.

» The Stars will take Thursday off and are expected to return to practice Friday in Frisco.

Photo credit: Jeff Toates / Dallas Stars

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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