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Monday Notes: Jamie Benn is Stars' Nominee for Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Stars captain Jamie Benn is the teams’ nominee for the 2015-16 Bill Masterton Trophy, which is given to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

“It’s just a good honor,” Benn said. “You grow up playing this sport, and you work so hard at it. I think it is so important for young kids to have respect for this game and for players out there, how you handle yourself. It can get pretty intense out there, but if you do the right things on and off the ice, you are going to be a well-respected player.”

Benn battled through hip pain last season and did not miss one game, winning the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s top scorer with 87 points (35 goals, 52 assists) in 82 games. He underwent surgery on both his hips in the offseason, rehabbed hard during the summer and was ready when the 2015-16 season began. He’s second in the NHL in scoring and has been key in helping the Stars emerge as one of the top teams in the NHL through his leadership on and off the ice.

“What he went through this summer was extremely tough. To be ready for the season and have the year he’s had, it speaks a lot,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “What he has done inside that room; that veteran group, it starts with him. There’s a lot of nights where something has to be said, and he’s the guy who is saying it. And there’s a lot of nights where something has to be done on the ice and he’s the guy who goes out and does it. I think he is a great example for all the players.”

The Dallas Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association nominated Benn for the award. Each team nominates one player, and the PHWA will vote on a winner from the 30 nominees.

Stars defenseman Kris Russell, who did not play during the team’s three-game road trip due to a lower-body injury, went through a full practice Monday and appears ready to return to the lineup.

He’s available to play, so there is a good chance he’ll play tomorrow,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.

Right wing Brett Ritchie did not practice Monday due to a lower-body injury. Ritchie is still being evaluated.

“Just a little bit of an injury popped up,” Ruff said. “He was in for treatment yesterday. We’ll see where he is when we get the news. He’s being looked at.”

Ruff added that the injury is not what kept Ritchie out of Saturday’s game in San Jose.

It’s been almost three weeks since defenseman Jason Demers went out with a shoulder injury that was expected to keep him out six weeks. Ruff provided a brief update on Demers’ status Monday.

“He’s skating right now, but limited,” Ruff said. “We’ll see where he is at when next week starts.”

Ruff was also asked when Tyler Seguin might start skating. Seguin went out of the lineup Mar. 17 with a cut to his Achilles tendon what was expected to sideline him 3-4 weeks.

“I don’t know that for sure. He’s biking right now. That’s the first step,” Ruff said. “I am not going to assume, but I am going to say next week sometime maybe.”

The Stars practiced for about an hour in Frisco after a scheduled day off on Sunday.

“After a day off, we are just trying to get a real good flow and try to cover almost every area,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “A little bit of special teams, a little bit of five-on-five and we went over some of our defending from our last game.”

Here was the practice lineup:

Jamie BennCody EakinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaValeri Nichushkin

Antoine Roussel/Travis MoenRadek FaksaAles Hemsky

Colton SceviourVernon FiddlerPatrick Eaves

Kris Russell
Alex Goligoski

Johnny OduyaStephen Johns

Patrik NemethJohn Klingberg

Jamie OleksiakJordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

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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