Feb 24, 2014, 11:48 AM EDT
Jim Nill is excited about what the Olympics could do for Jamie Benn‘s career.
“Benn went out there as kind of the extra guy and he won the coaching staff over,” the Stars GM told the Dallas Morning-News. “His line has been one of the top lines for Canada the last couple games.
“I think this is going to help his game grow on the ice and off the ice, too.”
Benn, the Stars’ captain, came into Sochi as one of Canada’s bottom-six forwards, but quickly emerged as one of its most important. He scored a pair of goals — including the game-winner over the U.S. in the semifinals — and was just one of two Canadian forwards to post a multi-goal effort in the tournament (Jeff Carter was the other.)
Benn finished averaging over 13 minutes per game and, perhaps most importantly, raised his profile as one of the best young forwards in the NHL. At the age of 24, Benn is the leader of a Stars team fighting for a playoff spot and could use this Olympic momentum to carry his team to the postseason for the first time since 2008.
It’s also worth noting that his coach in Dallas, Lindy Ruff, was on the Canadian bench as one of Mike Babcock’s assistants in Sochi. Ruff got to witness Benn’s ascension first-hand, and it’s something Ruff knew could happen prior to the Games getting underway.
“It can be a turning point for a player, I really believe that,” Ruff said. “You get the chance to play in high-pressure games, and you also get to see the best players in our game up close as they prepare for those games.
“It’s a classroom, really, on how to handle yourself at the highest level.”
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