Whenever the NHL returns, Jamie Benn will still have some business to take care of with the Dallas Stars. The 23-year-old Victoria, B.C. native is without a contract and coming off a career-year with 26 goals, 63 points and much more promise still to be unearthed. Benn is a rising asset and, some believe, a blossoming star.
But while the NHL freezes him out, Benn turned to Europe and signed on with the German League’s Hamburg Freezers.
Benn signed in early October and missed the first few games of the season, but has managed six goals and 12 points in 11 games. While his total puts him fourth in team scoring, he's part of a franchise that has lacked point-producers and playoff wins in its brief history.
While Peter Sarno set the franchise record by scoring 74 points in 56 games in 2007-08, no other Freezer has hit 60 points and 50 has only been achieved seven other times. Last year’s leader, Brett Engelhardt, managed just 39 points, despite the team finishing fifth in league standings.
Founded as the Munich Barons in 1999, the Freezers moved to Hamburg for the start of the 2002-03 season, but haven’t found much success. The team has made it out of the first round of the playoffs only once. In 2003-04 they set a franchise record for points (95), finished third overall and knocked off Adler Mannheim in six games.
During the last lockout, Jean-Sebastien Giguere joined the Freezers in February and posted a .925 SP and 2.39 GAA in six games, but he couldn’t help lift them out of the first round.
You may remember Hamburg from last season, when they hosted the Los Angeles Kings in their European tour, but lost 5-4.
Among other notable Freezers players this season are captain Christoph Schubert, Mathieu Roy, Duvie Westcott and Matt Pettinger, who Benn says he spoke to before signing with the team.
The northern-most team in the German League, Hamburg currently sits third with a 9-6-1-2 record and 31 points (wins are worth three, overtime wins worth two).
While Benn is off to a good start, he still has work to do to catch NHL rivals Claude Giroux and Daniel Briere, both of whom are carving it up with always-impressive Eisbaren Berlin. Giroux sits fourth in league scoring with 19 points in eight games and Briere tied for fifth with 18 points in the same number of outings.
To see Benn score in a Hamburg jersey, check out this video. The tally comes at about the 2:00 mark.
"Where are you?" is a new feature on THN.com that will run every Monday through the duration of the NHL lockout. We'll pick out an NHLer who is in action and update you on his individual performance, as well as his team's success. If you have a player you'd like to see covered here, email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop us a line on Twitter @TheHockeyNews or to the author @THNRoryBoylen.