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Road to Sochi: A ‘wakeup call’ for Jamie Benn

Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn looks on from the bench. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, I’ll be checking in with players from around the NHL to see where they fit into the grand scope of the games and how this Olympic year affects their season.

Jamie Benn was upset when he wasn’t one of the 25 forwards invited to Canada’s Olympic orientation camp this summer. The opportunity to represent his country is something the Dallas Stars left wing has long hoped for and Benn, 24, is determined to do everything he can to show Hockey Canada he’s ready for the Olympic stage.

“Not getting an invite was a bit of a wakeup call for me, gave me a little bit of fire for the year. I want to be on that team,” Benn said. “My focus is with the Dallas Stars but I want to have a good first three quarters of the season so I know I did everything to be a part of that team too.”

This was already going to be an important year for Benn, who was named the Stars’ captain in September ahead of his fifth NHL season.

Over the course of 265 career regular season games, Benn has recorded 82 goals and 112 assists. But the standout winger is more soft spoken than exuberant star and was able to come of age in the shadow of previous captain Brendan Morrow along with offensive talents like Mike Ribeiro and James Neal, who are now with Phoenix and Pittsburgh respectively.

“I learned a lot from Brendan Morrow, he was my captain here and the guy that I looked up to my first four years,” Benn said. “He definitely led by example. He wasn’t a big talker but he brought it every night. That’s what I want to be as a captain.”

Benn is now the face of the new-look Stars, who hired Lindy Ruff as coach and added veteran Sergei Gonchar and talented center Tyler Seguin in the offseason. But it will still be up to the British Columbia native to help keep Dallas on track as it looks to reach the postseason for the first time since 2007-08.

In Benn’s view, if he does all that he can to help the Stars succeed, he should be able to show Canada what they’d be missing if they left him off the roster for Sochi.

“I’m working harder and doing everything I can to help this team win,” Benn said. “If I do that, the rest should take care of itself.”