Jamie Benn had the best season of his career despite being hampered by hip injuries. Imagine what the Dallas Stars captain might do for an encore if completely healthy.
Benn did not let his hips slow him down in 2014-15, as he played in all 82 games for Dallas. He registered career highs of 35 goals and 52 assists, securing the Art Ross Trophy by recording a hat trick during a four-point performance against the Nashville Predators in the season finale.
The 25-year-old also was a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award, which is given to the NHL’s most outstanding player following voting by his peers. Formerly known as the Lester B. Pearson Award, it was presented to Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, who also won the William Jennings, Vezina and Hart Trophies.
Not including the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, Benn has increased his goal total each of the last three full seasons after scoring 22 in each of his first two seasons. He shattered his previous career marks in 2013-14 with 34 goals and 45 assists before eclipsing those totals this past season.
Benn began addressing his hip ailments just over two weeks after the end of the season, undergoing his first surgery on April 27 in New York. A week later, he had arthroscopic surgery on his other hip, as cartilage damage was repaired while a bony growth on his femur was shaved.
The left wing was predicted to need four to five months to recover, possibly even six. But Benn hopes to minimize the projected time, as he is looking to be ready for the 2015-16 season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 8.
“I think I’m ahead of schedule,” he told the team’s website. “We still have a long time to go here before training camp and the season starts, so I’m in no rush. I’m going to take it day by day, nice and slow. I think the main thing is that I don’t want any setbacks. I’m definitely happy with my progress.”
Benn apparently is recovering nicely, indeed. He did some light skating on Tuesday during a break between sessions at the Stars’ development camp in Frisco.
“I wasn’t doing too much out there,” Benn said. “I don’t think I mixed a crossover in; I was just working on the edges, feeling out the hips a bit, and the groins. But it did feel good to be out there.”
It marked the second time Benn has been on the ice since his second surgery on May 4. He continues to rehab the hips in the Dallas area and will not push himself in order to speed up the process.
“I haven’t been really doing too much,” Benn said. “I’ve been taking it day by day. It’s definitely nice to get back out on the ice now. I probably won’t be skating every day, but a couple times a week. And I’ll be sticking with my off-ice plan.”
High expectations will be bestowed upon Benn after his performance last season. Barring any setbacks on his road to recovery, he’s very likely to live up to them.