I caught up with Stars forward Jamie Been yesterday to get some thoughts on the Stars' surprising start and the World Junior Championships.
RLD: Coming into the year, not many people expected you guys to be in the position you are in now. Is this what you expected out of this team? Jamie Benn: We knew we had a good team coming into the year. Not too many people believed in us, but that doesn’t matter. We believe in ourselves. We have a good group of guys in here and we’re a pretty good hockey team. RLD: Has the game slowed down at all for you in your second year in the league? Benn: No not really (laughs). Every night is a battle out there. Any given night, any team can win. It’s a challenge and it’s a lot of fun.
RLD: You have some toughness and edge to your game, more than a lot of other skilled players coming up nowadays… any reason behind that? Benn: No I don’t think so, I like playing that way. I like to throw my body around and fight when I have to. I don’t really look for it, but I don’t mind it.
RLD: As a young guy, are there any certain veterans in this locker room you go to with questions, etc? Benn: There’s a bunch in here. There are lots of guys on this team that lead the way, and it all starts with our captain. Brendan is a true professional and does things right on and off the ice. That’s a guy that I definitely watch.
RLD: You made a pretty quick jump to the NHL compared to other fifth round picks… any reason for that fast track to the big club? Benn: I had a couple good years in Kelowna, developed really well and had some good coaching. I got a good opportunity here, they gave me a chance and I just ran with it.
(In 2008-09, Benn participated in the World Junior Championships with the Canada team that won gold in Ottawa. He chipped in with six points in six games.)
RLD: With the World Juniors going on, are you keeping track to see what’s going on? Benn: (With a big smile on his face) Yeah, I’m definitely checking in. I know a couple of the guys on the team, so I’ve been texting them and stuff. It seems like they [Canada] are off to a good start.
RLD: What are some of the memories that you had at the World Juniors a couple years ago? Benn: I think just playing in front of 20,000 Canadian fans in Ottawa was pretty special. To win the gold in front of them was pretty unbelievable.
RLD: Some people outside of this locker room may not be on the believer’s bandwagon just yet. What is one reason why this team will stay in the hunt all year? Benn: I think because we believe in ourselves. We’re here to do it for each other and not anyone else, so I think that’s the biggest reason.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.