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Victoria's Jamie Benn: I 'want to kind of shove it in their face'
Some players work their way from nearly nowhere to the frontlines of the Canadian national team.
A lot can happen in a few months, after all.
Think Jarome Iginla, whose ascension to greatness began in the fall of 2001. Iggy scored two goals in Canada's gold medal win over the United States, finished second for that year's Hart Trophy, and never looked back. How about Robyn Regher, another then-Flame, who gained national praise during Calgary's run to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final, and found himself on that year's World Cup team only a month later.
For Victoria's Jamie Benn, the non-invitation to this week's Olympic orientation camp can take him several different directions. Does it motivate him to get better, to play all-world, and to make the team? He says it does, although he sounds angry about it:
"It gives you a little fire," he said on Monday. "I just want to kind of shove it in their face."
A little fire, sure. But, a middle finger, too?
"There's very little that can motivate a hockey player more than playing for the right to represent their country on the biggest stage in sports," wrote SB Nation's "Defending Big D" blog, when Benn was first left off the Olympic camp's watch list. "The double edged sword, where putting on the sweater of your home country in the Olympics can be considered the epitome of pride, while being left off the preliminary roster can use that same pride as a motivating factor to get down to business and prove them wrong."
In Benn's case – and for fans of him, like me – the omission from this week's camp is a curiously dubious one, because it's hard to imagine any NHLer doing more to earn their spot, or at least their shot than Big Benny has the last three seasons.
Benn is dominant with the puck. He's absolutely massive. He skates fast and strong, and he controls the play like only a select few Europeans can. Like Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin, or Anze Kopitar, he's a lefty with reach, range, and imposing size who steals your eye and your imagination whenever he's on the ice.
He's also an All-Star, having been the second-last pick in that game's player draft two years ago. The guy who was picked just after him, Logan Couture, is in Calgary this week training with Canada. Benn is not.
(Neither of them deserved to be "drafted" that late, either.)
Take a look at the highlight vids below. Do you think Benn deserves a roster spot, or at least an invite to the camp?
How about some old fashioned respect?
After seeing these, that can't be too much to ask: