Team Canada didn’t want Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn this summer, leaving him off the squad it took to orientation camp in Calgary. And, I know I’m oversimplifying here, that’s why Benn ended up as one of the heroes of the team’s run to a gold medal in Sochi. The snub prompted him to dig in and earn his way onto the team — force his way, really — with 24 points in the first 24 games of the season; he was added to the team in January. It was a strange decision to leave him off Team Canada to begin with, since he’s one of the brightest young talents in the NHL. But that only makes it a better plot point when they finish the super-polite, made-for-CBC movie about these guys.
And Benn was crucial to Team Canada’s success. He scored the game-winning goal in Canada’s first win, over Norway. And he scored the only goal in the win (BOOOOOOOO!) over the United States to propel the team to the gold-medal game against Sweden. He’s probably the most-talked about Canadian at the moment, until Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s hip-hop production career takes off.
Now the question Dallasites care about, and I have been assured there are a number of Dallasites that care: can Benn’s national-team glory carry over to the Stars, currently holding on to the final playoff spot in the West? The team was hot before the break (6-1-2 in its last nine) and plays the first of its final 24 games tomorrow night. Since I’m not a hockey expert, I will go ahead and say: sure. But Stars coach Lindy Ruff (who also won gold with Team Canada) learned something from his time running the Olympic team’s defense and talking shop with his fellow coaches, including former Stars coach Ken Hitchcock:
“We had an opportunity to scrutinize every play in every game, and then battle as coaches on which is the best way to play it. There are some things that I brought back that I would really like our team to try.”