While Jamie Benn is ready to get back on the ice, he says the break ‘couldn’t have come at a better time’ for the Stars

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Just like you, Jamie Benn has binge-watched “Tiger King.”

The Stars captain has dusted off the Nintendo 64. He’s broken out the board games. He’s FaceTimed with teammates and friends. Benn might watch “Ozark” next on Netflix. Like the rest of the NHL players and much of Dallas, Benn is trying to keep busy while quarantined during the coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID-19 outbreak forced the NHL to suspend the regular season on March 12, and the league extended the players’ self-quarantine until April 15. Because of the suspension, the NHL began hosting Zoom videoconferences with players last week, and Benn was joined by Minnesota’s Zach Parise, Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog and Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler on Tuesday afternoon.

Benn has remained in Dallas, where he makes his home year-round, with his girlfriend Katie.

“I just hope everyone’s staying safe, stay inside and keeping positive through a tough time like this,” Benn said. “I think if we stick together and do the right thing, looking forward to something much better. Hopefully, we’ll get hockey back soon and we can start playing in front all the great fans of the NHL and especially here in Dallas.”

Benn touched on a number of subjects during the call, moderated by a member of the NHL’s communications department, including the Stars’ form before the pause. Dallas entered the break on a six-game losing streak, the longest losing skid of the season that brought them closer to the postseason bubble with 13 games remaining.

“For the break, I think it couldn’t have come at a better time for us,” Benn said. “We were slipping a bit. I think we lost six in a row, so I know our group was like ‘All right, this ain’t so bad.’ But now that it’s been a few weeks and we don’t know how much longer it’s going to be, I think we’re all just wishing we could get back out there on the ice.”

Here are some other topics Benn spoke about.

— No kids yet: Unlike Parise, Wheeler and Landeskog, Benn does not have any children, which makes his quarantine experience different from the rest of the players.

“No kids, so it sounds like I’ve got it easiest out of all the boys on this call,” Benn said.

While the other players are busy homeschooling and entertaining kids, Benn doesn’t have those responsibilities. So Parise explained to Benn what a typical day looked like in his household: his 2-year-old child wakes up around 5 a.m., his other two kids are up at 7 a.m., there’s cooking and schoolwork and a little bit of hockey and then a deep breath when the youngest takes a nap from 1-3 p.m.

“We’ll get there one day,” Benn said. “For right now, me and my girlfriend Katie, we’re enjoying just being together. It’s a little bit of a different time. We’re looking at each other throughout the day here being like ‘What do we do next? What do we do next?’ These guys are probably go, go, go all day. My time will come and I’ll let these guys do the work for now.”

— Challenging Wheeler: Benn made it clear that he’s asked Wheeler to fight him almost every game that the Stars and Jets have matched up.

“I like playing the game hard and I try to play the right way,” Benn said. “I have a lot of fun with it. I do a lot of talking on the ice to other players. I know me and Wheels, I think I ask him to fight every game we play.”

Wheeler responded: “There was one game, I think we faced off against each other like 20 times. He asked me to fight 20 times. Like third period, tied game, whatever.”

Benn: “I don’t think I ever met you, Wheels, until last summer in Toronto. We had a good time. We had a couple laughs and a couple cold ones over it. I think I came out of the gates hot again this year and asked him to go one more time.”

Since the Jets moved to Winnipeg in 2011-12, Benn has played against them 32 times, but Benn and Wheeler have never dropped the gloves.

The exchange was sparked by a question to Parise about what he misses the least about playing the other three players on the panel.

“Gabe and Jamie, I feel like they’ll KO you if you’ve got your head down at the puck,” Parise said. “I don’t miss that. Gabe’s got me a couple times, I know that. Jamie’s taken some runs at me, too. But he usually laughs about it after, so that’s fine.”

— No to Radulov: All four players were asked which teammates they would most and least like to be quarantined with during this time. Benn would like to stay away from Alexander Radulov, and spend time with Ben Bishop.

“The guy’s crazy,” Benn said of Radulov. “He’s a mess. You never know what he’s up to. When he’s got his family in town here, his pops and his son, they’re all just buzzing around the rink and nobody knows what’s going on. It’s just Russian spoken everywhere.”

As for Bishop, Benn said he was a “fun guy, talks a lot,” and they share an affinity for red wine “so I wouldn’t mind getting stuck in quarantine with him.” Earlier this season, after a tornado damaged Bishop’s home, he stayed at Benn’s house.

— Long memories: Even in a light-hearted videoconference, Benn snuck in a jab at the Avalanche. When Landeskog was asked which one of the players on the call cheats the most at faceoffs, Benn cut in and said “Gabe’s going to say the Stars as a whole team.”

When the Stars beat the Avalanche in overtime on Jan. 14, Landeskog lost a faceoff to Joe Pavelski that directly led to Esa Lindell’s game-winning goal. The next day, Colorado coach Jared Bednar said the Stars were “doing a better job of cheating on it than we are. We don’t feel like the linesmen were doing a good enough job (Tuesday), sort of holding (the respective teams) accountable to make it a level playing field on the faceoffs.”

On Tuesday, Landeskog offered a quick response to Benn before praising the other panelists: “Yeah, the Stars, they’re painful in the faceoff circle.”


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