(DALLAS, TX) – With a goal this week, Jamie Benn became the youngest Dallas Star to reach 100 goals. Pretty lofty accomplishment for the 24 year old from Victoria, BC. Extremely impressive when you think about how far this Canadian Olympian has come since 2009, let alone since the early 1990’s and lacing up the skates in the hockey hotbed of west coast British Columbia.
Today he’s in Big D, playing on the same team as older brother Jordie, playing for Stanley Cup Head Coach Lindy Ruff, and skating alongside # 91 Tyler Seguin.
In 2009 Benn was 60 minutes away from being a Memorial Cup champion for the Kelowna Rockets. The team advanced to the title game by leading the preliminary round in points. Benn was a certain MVP but a loaded Windsor Spitfires club, and pre-tournament favourite, consisting of Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, and Ryan Ellis took down Kelowna 4-1 in the championship game.
At the time, Benn was a star in Kelowna, playing alongside future Calder Trophy winner Tyler Myers. Benn was the leading scorer in the Memorial Cup with nine points that May but, it’s fair to say, any of those players in the ‘09 Memorial Cup would trade their junior and NHL hardware for a shot at Olympic Gold for Team Canada.
Hockey analysts couldn’t have predicted the past 60 months for Benn. He went from being a 5th round pick of Dallas in 2007, to signing a lucrative multi-year deal in 2012, to being the captain of the Stars, to being left off the summer Team Canada invite list.
In December, Benn accomplished what many didn’t see coming (other than your truly); playing his way onto Team Canada 2014 in Sochi.
Benn’s expected to play a significant role for Canada. His speed, grit, and shot are keys for Canada and for the Stars. His knowledge of how to potentially solve teammate Kari Lehtonen in the preliminary round could be a key to advancing Canada out of Group B.
To advance to the quarterfinals, without playing in the qualification round like Canada had to in 2010, is the goal when Canada faces Finland on February 16. It is definitely what Canada wants and needs for their next foray on international ice.
Canada’s aim is to defend their gold medal winning performance in Vancouver, but this time at the Bolshoy and Shayba arenas close to the Black Sea. Benn, the outstanding leader of the Dallas Stars, is integral to that objective.
There’s irony in the captaincy in Dallas and for the Team Canada locker room in Sochi.
In 2010, Brendan Morrow was the young captain of the Dallas Stars. Like Benn, Morrow was a product of the Western Hockey League. Wearing #10 in Dallas and #10 for Team Canada in Vancouver, was gold and glorious, especially in the quarterfinal game against Alexander Ovechkin and Pavel Datsyuk’s Russian squad.
Benn is #14 in Dallas, so #14 in 2014 could be hockey karma, like #10 in ’10 was appropriate. And many Canadians will be hoping for a similar result; though Chris Kunitz will probably be wearing #14 in Sochi.
Canadians are hoping Benn helps bring the Gold home to Canada this month. Stars fans are hoping their new leader and young captain brings home the Stanley Cup to Dallas. By doing one, or both, he’ll be a hero to Canadians and those at the AAC.
There’s no room for doubt in the picture of Dallas sports heroes. Alongside Staubach, Aikman, Smith, Irvin, Nolan, and Dirk, for another all-time hockey player, joining Mike Modano, many are expecting to see Jamie Benn take his rightful place.
But for many Canadians, even those of us in Texas, Sochi is first.