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Inside the aftermath of Jamie Benn's cross-check and ejection from Game 3
Here's what I know. Now you know.
Like he is for each Conference Final game, George Parros was in the building on Tuesday.
The head of the NHL's Department of Player Safety watched Jamie Benn cross-check Mark Stone live. He watched Benn get ejected and by the end of the first period, the Stars brass already knew that Benn would be suspended for at least Game 4.
Benn had his hearing on Wednesday with Stars GM Jim Nill in attendance, Dallas went in hoping for a one-game suspension as a best case scenario, but Nill told me on Thursday morning he was well aware that two games would be possible.
Benn didn’t have much of a case, the video speaks for itself, and while his public display has lacked compassion the past 48 hours, in private he’s expressed more remorse according to a couple sources.
Where Benn delivered the cross-check, to the shoulder and neck area, near the head, became a sticking point for a longer suspension. If Benn had cross-checked Stone in just the arm or middle body, it could have been a one-game ban for the Stars captain.
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As far as the court of public opinion goes, Benn lost a lot of goodwill with the Stars fanbase — understandably so. The penalty not only cost the Stars the game, but his lack of public remorse and poorly-chosen answers to media questions on Wednesday didn’t stick well even with the most-ardent Benn supporters.
Outside of Dallas there was more recognition of a pattern where Benn has been willing to cross the line with cross-checks.
He famously injured Dylan Larkin with a cross-check that ended the Detroit Red Wings captain season during the 2020-21 season. Players outside of Dallas have also told me before that Benn is particularly skilled in some of the “dark arts” of getting jab or cross-check in behind the play.
The Stars players publicly defended Benn, so did Pete DeBoer. You wouldn’t have expected anything different. Internally the Stars players while disappointed with the result and the action, have still had Benn’s back that he happened to make a mistake on one of the biggest stages.
Above the Stars locker room, team executives and ownership have been intentionally quiet. After what happened with a certain incident in Dallas involving Benn and Tyler Seguin, and this reporter, team executives have taken more of a hard-line stance to avoid commenting on hockey matters (outside of Tom Gaglardi on Vancouver radio).
Outside of the Stars organization, Benn’s suspension opens him to more criticism and lends credence to some “dirty player” talk in the future. He’d been fined four times in his NHL career before, but never had been suspended, it’s hard to un-see what he did to Stone.
I spoke with a member of the Vegas organization this week about the Benn incident and how it changed their perception of Benn. Even when eliminating some of the emotion of the moment, this conversation happened on Wednesday after some cool-down time, it was clear some respect had been lost which had prior been there for the Dallas captain.
Now Benn will watch Game 4, he’ll hope for a Game 5, because otherwise the season will be over and this suspension will hang over him and the Stars into Game 1 of the next season.