“[I caught] some halibut and some salmon,” Benn said. “They were delicious.”
Benn arrived in Dallas on Sunday, and he was on the ice Tuesday, lending a hand at a Dallas Stars summer hockey camp at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter in Plano.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “As Canadian players, we’ve all experienced NHL players to come out and skate with the guys. It’s huge for one of us to come out to skate with them. The kids love it, and it is nice to give back.”
Tuesday’s camp was run by the Dallas Stars Xtreme Team and led by Stars director of hockey development Dwight Mullins, who coached Benn when both were with the Allen Americans. Stars director of alumni Bob Bassen was on hand as well. Forty-six kids were on the ice with Benn on Tuesday.
“In football heaven, hockey is getting pretty big. The people that have put these camps on have done an unbelievable job,” Benn said. “Some of these kids are huge. I heard they were five to 12-years-old, and some of them were almost as big as me. They’ve got some pretty good talent out there.”
It’s been an eventful offseason for Benn and his brother, Stars captain Jamie Benn. Both signed contracts with the Stars. Jordie, who was a pending unrestricted free agent, signed a three-year deal worth $1.1 million per season in late June.
“My biggest thing is I wanted to come back to Dallas,” he said. “It was just a dream to play in the NHL and obviously to get to do it with Jamie and in a great city like Dallas, I really wanted to stay.
“You don’t leave the door closed on other teams by any means, but our talks with Jim Nill and the Stars went pretty quick and pretty easy. It was nice to hear that they wanted me back.”
Less than a month after Jordie signed his deal, Jamie signed an eight-year contract extension worth $76 million or $9.5 million per season. That contract, which takes effect in 2017-18, makes Jamie one of the highest paid players in the NHL.
“He deserves every penny he gets,” Jordie said. “He’s the captain. He’s the heart and soul of the Stars right now. He works really hard, and he leads on and off the ice. It’s nice to see where he is and where he has come from. He is getting what he is worth, that’s for sure.”
Jamie is recovering from surgery last week to deal with a core muscle injury he suffered while training. Jordie said all is fine with his younger brother, and he’ll chip in to help during the recovery process.
“He’s all well and is up and running. The surgery went really well. He should be full force in a couple weeks,” Benn said. “Those surgeries are a bit finicky, so you don’t want to have any setbacks, so I’ll definitely be lifting a few things until he is ready to go.”
This offseason has seen some big changes for the Stars. The team signed defenseman Dan Hamhuis to a two-year contract and parted ways with several players. The Stars traded the rights to defenseman Alex Goligoski, a pending unrestricted free agent, to Arizona and the Coyotes signed Goligoski to a multi-year deal. And the Stars parted ways with UFAs Jason Demers, Kris Russell. Vernon Fiddler, Colton Sceviour and Travis Moen.
“It’s going to be a bit of a different dressing room. It’s going to be a little younger,” Benn said. “We picked up some great guys. Dan Hamhuis is going to be huge for us. Hopefully, we will get off to a good start and jell as a team.”
The defense will be much younger with Esa Lindell expected to be on the roster, Stephen Johns around for the entire season and Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak, who both saw limited playing time last season, in the mix for more of a role this season.
“They are obviously good enough to be here, so you let them do their thing, and watch what they do. It doesn’t matter how old they are, give them a few games, and they’ll be right in it,” Benn said.
It appears the plan right now is for the team to carry eight defensemen again this season. For a good part of last season – when the team was healthy on the blue line – that meant two guys sat out as healthy scratches. Benn said carrying eight can be tough at times, but it leads to good competition, and if injuries strike, the team is covered.
“I’ve been there and seen it. I have been part of the seven and eight that are sitting in the stands watching, and it is obviously hard,” said Benn. “It’s a business, and you can’t think too much into it. You come in, work hard every day at practice, and hopefully you are in the lineup.
“You never know what can happen. When it rains it pours, so if one goes down (with an injury) then you are pretty sure something else is going to happen. You want to stay healthy, and hopefully the top six can do their work, and it makes for good competition in practice for who gets that five and six role.”
Now that Benn is back in town his focus is starting to shift to the upcoming season. He’ll be working out and skating here in Dallas. He and his teammates will look to build on last season, which saw the Stars finish with the second-best record in the league and win a playoff round for the first time since 2008.
“Last season should help us a lot,” Benn said. “The regular season was huge and in the playoffs we fell short, but we are making steps in the right direction. We want to keep going. We’ve set a standard in Dallas that we want to keep. We want to get better, and hopefully we can make the whole run.”