Not only did Jamie Benn win the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top scorer, he did it while hobbled by a hip injury that will require off-season surgery and at least four months of rehabilitation.
Benn’s response when asked about the injury? “I was healthy all year,” Benn told Mark Stepneski of Stars’ Inside Edge. “I played every game this year. That’s it.”
Well, that’s not quite all there was to it. Stars GM Jim Nill, in his season-ending meeting with media, said Benn not only played injured but required two or three shots to stay in the lineup, never complained about the injury and even found his way onto the ice on nights when the staff believed he would be watching from the sideline.
Playing through an injury is one thing, but Benn continued to rack up points. By the all-star break, Benn was 16 points back of the scoring lead with 13 goals and 40 points. From the all-star break to the end of the season, Benn scored six more points than any other player in the league, registering 22 goals and 47 points in his final 36 games. To cap off the season, Benn notched a mind-blowing eight goals and 16 points in his final seven games.
“He’s the only person to win the scoring race when he never led the scoring race during the season at any time,” Nill told Stepneski. "If you look at him during the season, he was seventh to 12th, but he never led it. For that magic moment to happen late, it just shows what kind of person he is. It shows when you do things right, good things happen. He’s a great example of that.”
By taking home the scoring title, Benn becomes the first player in the history of the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars franchise to win the Art Ross. And he did so because of a three-goal, four-point night on the final Saturday of the season against the Nashville Predators.
Benn’s league-leading point total was part of his steady increase in career highs. Drafted in the fifth round, 129th overall, by the Stars in 2007, Benn began his career in 2009-10 with 22 goals and 41 points in 82 games. That has been followed up by season’s of 22 goals and 56 points, 26 goals and 63 points, 34 goals and 79 points and culminated with this season’s Art Ross performance. Even in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, Benn scored 12 goals and 33 points in 41 games, which would have put him on pace to best his 2011-12 career highs.
He won’t be the only Star undergoing hip surgery, though, as the club also announced Ales Hemsky will go under the knife to repair a similar injury.
According to Nill, Benn should be ready in time for Stars training camp next season, but it’s still unknown whether he’ll need the surgery on just one or both hips.