Dallas center Jamie Benn has been one of the top players in the NHL in recent years but at one point was strong considering baseball, he told Jonas Siegel of the Canadian Press. Before the Stars selected him in the fifth round back in 2007, he had an NCAA commitment to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks where he would have played both sports. However, after being drafted, he agreed to play in the WHL, thereby foregoing his college eligibility.
On the diamond, Benn spent his time at center field and first base while also pitching from time to time. One of his former coaches called him the second best hitter to come out of Victoria, B.C., behind only Michael Saunders of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Benn’s commitment to both sports may have played a role in him dropping as far as he did in the draft as his hockey conditioning and skills weren’t as sharp as many other junior aged players at that time.
It’s hard to say the selection hasn’t panned out for the Stars, who picked four players ahead of Benn that year with only one actually playing in the NHL (Colton Sceviour, who signed with Florida this summer). The 27 year old – who suited up in his first preseason game this week and appears to be on track to start the season – has put up three straight seasons of 79 points or more. Although he may very well have been a successful baseball player had he opted to make that his primary choice, it’s safe to say that the decision to stick with hockey has served the Stars’ captain well.
Other news from out West:
- Los Angeles left winger Tanner Pearson has been suspended for the remainder of the preseason plus the first two games of the regular season for an illegal check to the head on Edmonton defenseman Brandon Davidson, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced. Pearson had received a match penalty on the play originally. He will forfeit just over $15.5K in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund and will be eligible to return on October 18th against Minnesota.
- Veteran defenseman Dan Boyle officially announced his retirement at a press conference today in San Jose. The 40 year old played in 1,093 games over a 17 year career, suiting up for the Panthers, Lightning, Sharks, and Rangers and won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004. With 605 points to his name, Boyle ranks 35th in scoring amongst blueliners in NHL history.