I thought of this while watching the playoffs last night. I feel so removed from the playoffs since the Stars haven’t made it for the last two seasons, that I really don’t care what happens. Well, I’d really like to see Phoenix and San Jose lose, but I just don’t care a whole lot. I’d much rather talk about the few good things that happened for the Stars and Stars players this season.
So without further ado, I present to you the best aspect of 2009-10: Jamie Benn’s rookie season!
I am a big Jamie Benn fan (duh!) and I have been since the summer of 2008 when Sarah and I went to development camp. I followed him all through juniors in the 2008-09 season and saw him win gold at the World Juniors, win the WHL championship, and fall just short of winning the whole CHL championship. I also bought his first jersey in October of this season, and he said my jersey was the first of his that he had signed 🙂
Jamie had an amazing season his last year in juniors. In the regular season with Kelowna, he had 82 points (46 G, 36 A) in 56 games. He missed a fair number of games in the regular season while he played for Canada in the World Junior Championships. They won the gold medal, partially thanks to his contributions. Jamie was on fire in the playoffs for Kelowna, as he had 33 points (13 G, 20 A) in just 19 playoff games. He even missed a couple games in the playoffs after taking a cheap hit from one of the Calgary Hitmen (actually Brent Seabrook’s little brother – ugh!) during the WHL Championship series.
Jamie’s technique tip for the videos done for the World Junior Championships.
When most of you first saw Jamie, it was probably at the beginning of training camp. From the start of camp, Heika, the coaches, and the rest of Jamie’s teammates began talking about just how good this kid from Victoria was. He wasn’t even expected to make the team this season, and the coaches had penciled him in to start the season with the Stars new affiliate in Cedar Park. I had kind of penciled that in as well, since Cedar Park is almost 3 hours closer to me than Dallas is. After the first week of training camp, it was pretty obvious that he was going to be staying up in Dallas. Crawford said a few times that Jamie was the best player at training camp, not just the best young player. He had goals in almost all of the preseason games he played in and seemed to be off to a really strong start.
He had a great rookie season, scoring 22 goals and adding 19 assists for a total of 41 points. Those aren’t quite the same numbers he put up in juniors, but that’s to be expected since the caliber of the defense goes up a whole lot in the NHL compared to the junior leagues. He even made the move to center for the first time in his career, and I think he handled it wonderfully, except for knocking out several of James Neal’s teeth in his first game at center. Next should hold even more possibilities for Jamie because I think he really got more comfortable as the season went on. His scoring went up as the year went on, and we started to get more glimpses of just how dominant he can be when he gets the puck. As Ralph and Razor said at the end of the Minnesota game last weekend, it was only fitting that Jamie score the last goal of the season as a symbol of how he’s going to one day be one of the important leaders of the team.
Some things about Jamie:
1. He’s from Victoria, British Columbia (one of the most beautiful places in the world)
2. Krys Barch was his roommate on the road last season. Talk about a nice introduction to the NHL! With Barchie’s future in question for next year, Jamie may be looking at getting a new roommate.
3. “Jamie Benn” is the search term most used for people coming to our blog for all time. That’s pretty impressive since he’s only been with the Stars for a season. I should post more stuff about him so all the Jamie Benn searchers can come here 🙂
4. His older brother, Jordie, plays for the Allen Americans (who are currently in the CHL playoffs). Even though Jamie’s the younger brother, he’s the one who managed to make it into the NHL. I think that happens relatively often because the younger sibling is forced to play at the higher level as the older sibling to cut down on traveling, cost, etc.
5. He has an awesome shot. That practicing the quick release must really help. I really wanted a video of the goal he scored December 23rd against Columbus, but I couldn’t find one. Someone like me should be cataloging all of his goals for posterity, I guess.
6. Even though the season is over for the Dallas Stars, Jamie Benn went down to Cedar Park to give the Baby Stars some help in the postseason. He’s playing on the top line with Rallo and Gagnon and will probably get a fair amount of powerplay time. He scored two goals in his first practice with the team, so hopefully that bodes well once the real games start. While I wish the Stars could be the ones in the playoffs, playing for the Texas Stars should give him a lot of good playoff experience at the professional level.
I think my favorite thing about Jamie is that he’s so humble and polite, even with everything that’s gone on his rookie season. He moved to a new country, played with amazing players such as Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen, and others, managed to score 22 goals, and learned a new position. His mannerisms remind me a lot of Brenden’s, and it’s refreshing to see that young star athletes can be so humble (here’s looking at you, James Neal). My favorite players are the ones who lead by their performance on the ice and drag the rest of the team along with them.
I look forward to everything that Jamie will do for this team in the future. Let’s hope he’s the only name on GM Joe’s “untouchables” list.