“I was healthy all year,” Benn said. “I played every game this year. That’s it.”
But that wasn’t it. Stars GM Jim Nill revealed that the Dallas captain did play through an injury. An injury that will require surgery.
“He needs hip surgery,” Nill said. “There was a lot of pain and a lot of nights we thought he wouldn’t be playing. He’d come to us and say, ‘No, I am a player.’ That’s Jamie Benn. We didn’t hear about it all season. He didn’t come to us and say I had a bad game, and it was because of my injury. We didn’t hear a thing about it, and that’s Jamie Benn. He had two or three shots that helped him get through things. To gut it out the way he did and have the success, it just shows that we’ve got a great leader on this team.”
All Benn did was finish the season with a flourish, registering 47 points (22 goals, 25 assists) in 36 games after the All-Star break. He tallied 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in the final seven games of the season. It all added up to Benn winning the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s top scorer with 87 points (35 goals, 52 assists) while playing all 82 games. He won the title with a four-point effort in the final game, including an assist with 8.5 seconds left that pushed him one point ahead of John Tavares of the New York Islanders.
“It’s an amazing feat that he did,” Nill said. “He’s the only person to win the scoring race when he never led the scoring race during the season at any time. If you look at him during the season, he was seventh to 12th, but he never led it. For that magic moment to happen late, it just shows what kind of person he is. It shows when you do things right, good things happen. He’s a great example of that.”
And he did it while playing through an injury.
“He was hurting and got through it. He was hurting for most of the year, and that will be dealt with,” Ruff said. “But he really grew as a captain. From a guy who wouldn’t say too much and wasn’t sure of what direction to go, his leadership on the team really grew. I think that is a big positive that came out of this year. He felt pain in being the captain of this team sometimes, and that wasn’t physical pain, it was mental pain. He represented this group as good as any captain in the league.”
Benn’s surgery will be similar to the procedure performed on Stars defenseman John Klingberg and Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin. It’s still not known if he’ll have surgery on one hip or both. The rehab time will be four to five months, according to Nill. That means Benn should be ready to go for training camp in September.
“It’s a major surgery,” Nill said. “But he’ll bounce back from it and probably be a better player than he is now.”
Injury Notes: Hemsky to have hip surgery
Jamie Benn won’t be alone in undergoing hip surgery this offseason. Stars forward Ales Hemsky will undergo hip surgery as well.
“He had a tough season. I give him credit; he was much like Jamie Benn. He gutted it out,” Nill said. “Never complained about it. He missed a lot of practices because of the pain.”
Nill also provided an update on defenseman Alex Goligoski, who missed the final game of the season with an undisclosed injury.
“Goligoski, as far as we know, is OK,” Nill said. “He was hurt very early in the season. He had some broken bones. First two months never practiced because he couldn’t, but he played all the games. We had some guys banged up. We had a tough season injury-wise.”
The Stars GM noted that the team lost defenseman Patrik Nemeth (arm) and forward Valeri Nichushkin (hip) for most of the season early in the season.
“That’s part of the game. It challenged our depth, which is good,” Nill said. “We got to see [Curtis] McKenzie and Brett [Ritchie] come up; you saw the young defensemen all come up. In the end, it is going to pay dividends for us down the road.”
Several Stars heading to World Championship
Several Stars players will head overseas to play at the World Championship, which gets underway May 1 in Czech Republic. Stars GM Jim Nill is the general manager of Canada’s team and confirmed that Stars forwards Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and Cody Eakin will all play for Canada.
Forward Antoine Roussel will play for France and Dallas defense prospect Esa Lindell is expected to play for Finland.
Some other Dallas players have been invited, but decisions are pending. Among them is defenseman John Klingberg, who has been invited to play for Sweden. But Klingberg isn’t ready to commit because he is a pending restricted free agent.
“I want to go there, it would be really nice,” Klingberg said. “It seems like there a lot of players going there. It would be really nice going to Prague and playing for Sweden. My contract is ending, but it’s about insurance. I have to have a deal done here, or the federation has to pay for insurance. I am not going to play without it.”
There is a chance a contract gets done. Nill said he is already working on it.
“I’ve talked to his agent; we’ve started some talks right now,” Nill said. “Hopefully, we can get something done so he can go play for Sweden.”
Quotable: Stars talk end of season
Stars captain Jamie Benn: “It came too early this year, and we didn’t reach our goal for getting into the playoffs and just giving ourselves a chance to win the Cup. It’s a tough day for everyone in here. We definitely don’t want to be doing this in April. … It just goes to show there are so many good teams in this league and that everyone is getting better. We’ve got to find a way to improve our game right from the start of the season next year. I think we got a little behind the eight-ball this year, fell too deep into a hole and couldn’t climb out of it. We’ve got to find a way early next year to get some more points.”
Stars coach Lindy Ruff: “The message is all about next year, which is a tough place to be. It’s about making sure we don’t end up in the same place. There were a couple teams that were a couple wins below us and pushed by us, and now we are on the other end of it. We’re going to have to be better, and you talk about what needs to be done.
“It’s hard [to make the playoffs]. The realization is that you’ve got to put together a good year, a consistent year. You’ve got to go on real good runs, and you’ve got to eliminate that one real bad one. I think we had one tough stretch where we didn’t win in seven and that is probably the run that did us in because we got into December, and we were pretty consistent from that point on.”
Stars GM Jim Nill: “It’s a feeling we don’t like. We’re going to watch the playoffs and realize we are as good as a lot of those teams. That’s the tough part, but that is the learning process we have to go through. We have to realize it is an 82-game schedule, we dug a hole for ourselves very early, and we had a great run from December on. I believe our record was 30-19-5, one of the best records in the league, but we dug a hole for ourselves.
“We want to be the best and I think we are on the right path. It’s going to take time. We are going to go through some bumps and valleys. You look at teams that are successful, they go through these. We are very fortunate in that we have some of the most gifted players in the league playing for us. We’ve got the leading scorer in the league, and if [Tyler Seguin] didn’t get hurt, we might have number one and number two. Jason Spezza top 30 in scoring. John Klingberg came out of nowhere and is one of the candidates for Rookie of the Year. We’ve got some great talent coming up. The future is bright, but there are going to be some ups and downs. It’s a tight league. I talked to the guys this morning, the difference is two or three wins. My talk last year was we are two or three wins from being out of the playoffs, this season we are two or three from being in it. That is how tight the league is.”
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 DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.