“I actually got a text from Tommer, and it just said Benny with a couple of Jets emojis,” Benn laughed. “I hadn’t heard anything yet, so I texted him back and said, ‘What’s going on, man?’ And he goes, ‘I hear you’re a Jet.’ And I go, ‘Oh, really? I haven’t heard any of that, yet.’ And then it popped up on the TV pretty much right after he texted me. That’s it. I mean, with social media these days, that’s pretty much how you’re going to find out if you’re traded or not.”
Benn, 33, skated alongside Thompson in Montreal back in the 2018-19 season, after suiting up with injured Jets defender Nate Beaulieu as a member of the Canadiens the year prior. But according to the incoming defenceman, that is where his well of familiarity runs dry.
Coming into a new situation, the shutdown defender has had some general conversations with Jets management and coaching staff, but expects the majority of the learning process to occur in person once he does arrive in Winnipeg via a charter flight from Vancouver on Thursday evening.
“Yeah, I’ve obviously talked to them, but nothing too in-depth yet,” the newest Jet admitted. “We’re just trying to get there as fast as possible. We haven’t gone over too much stuff, but I’m definitely sure when I get there we’ll get down to the nitty-gritty and see what they expect of me, and obviously how I play and what I expect of myself.”
What Jets fans can expect of Benn is a solid defender with a mean streak, who is willing to stand up for his teammates while providing some veteran leadership on the blueline.
“The way I like to play is calm, cool and collected,” he said. “Make the first pass out of the D-zone, get it to the forwards as much as possible. Obviously, the Jets have a pretty dynamic four lines, all the way through, so just get them the puck, make them do the heavy work. Obviously, you want the puck in their hands, so being able to give it to them crisp is good. And then be heavy in the D-zone and block some shots. I try and keep my game as simple as possible and as predictable as possible.”
Providing leadership and coaching may be one of Benn’s most attractive attributes to a defensive corps that carries an average age of 26.
“Looking at our back end, we’re sort of a mid-20s and younger group, I guess,” Josh Morrissey said on Tuesday. “A lot of guys in their mid-20s. So, it’s nice to have a guy come in who’s got some more experience. I looked and he’s in the mid-500s in games played and prior to that I don’t think we had any D over 400. So relative to that he’s got a lot of experience and that’s always a nice thing to have on your team and heading into the playoffs and the stretch run.”
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Through on-ice competition, Morrissey knows exactly what the Jets are getting in the proven defender.
“He’s a veteran guy, plays the game hard, and I think he can play both sides and he plays physical,” Morrissey added. “He’s good on the penalty kill I remember from playing against him, and he’s a tough player. I haven’t met him personally but it sounds like he’s a great guy, so excited to have him add to our group of guys on the back end and excited to get to know him.”
Also adding to the equation is head coach Paul Maurice, who was quick to sing Benn’s praises on Monday.
“There’s the weight and grit of a guy that’s played a bunch of games in the NHL that can play a hard game, play a heavy game and moves the puck a little bit,” he said. “Reputation-wise, he’s a spectacular human being, that was important to us too because we like what our room has done this year. We like how close they are together. He’s a hard, competitive man and that’s the kind of guy we wanted to make sure we would bring in, that would compete along with the rest of the fellas we have back there.”
Jets forward Mark Scheifele also spoke of the uncertainties heading into Monday’s trade deadline, but also touched on the addition of Benn.
“We’re happy to have Jordie and excited to welcome him whenever we can see him,” Scheifele said of the trade deadline following Monday’s loss to the Ottawa Senators. “You never know on deadline day. All you can do is focus on the game at hand. We just have to keep pushing… Obviously, we’re where we are for a reason; we have a great team. We have so many good players on this team. I like our team. I like our group. When we’re all healthy it’s a fun team to be a part of and hopefully, we can continue to play our game from here on out and make a good run.”
Obviously, caught a little off-guard by the move on Monday, Benn did not shy back from voicing his excitement upon hearing of the deal to Manitoba.
“Around trade deadline, there’s obviously rumours going around, your buddies are texting you wondering what’s going on,” he reflected. “I had a feeling something was up, and I guess that feeling was right. But pretty crazy getting the chance to play in an awesome city and an awesome hockey town and get a chance to taste the playoffs again.”
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