I was at a function last night when a casual hockey fan asked me which NHL team Jamie Benn plays for. Like the rest of the country, the fan was mightily impressed with what Benn accomplished in Sochi and was surprised he didn’t know more about him.
“Is it St. Louis?” he asked. “I don’t see the Blues on TV much.”
If Benn keeps rolling the way he is, all fans, even the most nonchalant, will know exactly where he plays.
Already a household name among serious hockey followers, his stature will soar. The Dallas Stars’ captain went from being a snub at last summer’s Team Canada orientation camp, to a key cog in the gold medal triumph. Both his goals were game-winners and coach Mike Babcock trusted him in critical situations, including on the penalty-kill.
Last night, he again proved what a dangerous weapon he is. On the PK against Carolina, he scored one of the prettier goals of the season, going end-to-end, splitting the defense and beating Anton Khudobin with a deft deke.
He now has 23 goals and 54 points on the season. That doesn’t make him a threat for the Art Ross or Rocket Richard, or even tops in either category on his team (that honor belongs to Tyler Seguin), but with a sustained push, he could finish top 10. To boot, he’s taking care of business in his own end, posting a plus-12.