There were a lot of new faces out on the ice at the Dallas Stars practice facility in Frisco on Monday, including forward Jamie Benn.
Benn spent the summer in British Columbia, attending some charity golf events, playing a little golf on his own and doing a lot of work preparing for the upcoming season.
“I feel pretty good right now,” Benn said. “I know what I have to do to be at the top of my game and in top shape. I think I did that this summer.”
Benn struggled late last season with a wrist injury, but he said it feels fine now. A little rest did the trick.
“I think it got healthy with the couple of weeks I took off after the season,” he said. “The body feels good right now, 100 percent and ready to go.”
There’s plenty for Benn to be excited about this coming season. With the Stars beefing up the center position with their offseason moves, Benn will move from center back to his natural position of left wing.
“I am excited for that,” Benn said. “I am looking forward to finding some chemistry with whoever I play with.”
Benn is expected to play with center Tyler Seguin, who was just one of the players the Stars acquired this offseason. The Stars also added centers Shawn Horcoff and Rich Peverley, defenseman Sergei Gonchar and goaltender Dan Ellis. Those additions have Benn excited as well.
“It’s definitely exciting. Bringing in a talented, young superstar like Seguin is exciting for our hockey team and the city,” Benn said. “We definitely brought in some other players that have some experience in Horcoff and Gonchar, so it’s going to be exciting and I think we are definitely looking forward to this year.”
There will be some motivation for Benn as well. He wasn’t selected for Canada’s Olympic orientation camp, the first step in selecting Canada’s hockey roster for the 2014 games in Sochi. But he still has his eyes set on a roster spot, and he’s focused on putting together a strong start to the season.
“It gives you a little fire. I think I said that in the interview back home, I just want to kind of shove it in their face,” Benn said. “It is what it is. I definitely want to be there. I’ll just have to prove myself the first half of the year.”
Stars GM Jim Nill said earlier this month that the team will name a captain prior to this season. Benn is considered a leading candidate, but didn’t have much to say about his prospects.
“I’ve got nothing to say about that right now,” he said.
But he did say he wouldn’t be intimidated by the position.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said.
Daley doing fine after offseason surgery
Defenseman Trevor Daley said he is doing fine after offseason surgery for a neck issue.
“I had a fusion done on my neck. They took a bone out of my hip and replaced it, one of my vertebrae,” Daley said. “When you deal with a neck it is pretty serious, but I feel great now. I’ve been cleared to do all my workouts and skate for right now and I am hoping to get cleared this week for contact.”
The neck problem forced Daley to miss a couple of games late last season, and had surgery about a week after the season ended. He’s been skating for the last six weeks.
“I was shut down for a good month when I didn’t do anything and I slowly got into it,” he said. “I’ve been skating for a while now, about a month-and-a-half. I got cleared pretty early. I felt like I was behind, so I felt like I need to catch up.”