The Winnipeg Jets will have their newest acquisition join the team later this week after defenceman Jordie Benn was picked up from the Vancouver Canucks just prior to the NHL’s trade deadline on Monday.
Benn will arrive in Winnipeg on Thursday, and he’s flying charter, so he won’t have to quarantine and can join his new teammates immediately for practice on Friday.
The 33-year-old had suspected a trade was in the works on trade deadline day, but it was actually one of his new teammates, Nate Thompson, who informed him of the deal for the Jets’ sixth round draft pick.
“I actually got a text from Tommer (Thompson), and it just said Benny with a couple Jets emojis, and I hadn’t heard anything yet,” Benn said. “So I text him back and I said what’s going on man? And he goes “I hear you’re a Jet.” And I go really ? I was like, I hadn’t heard any of that yet. And then it popped up on the TV pretty much right after he texted me.
“There’s obviously rumours going around and your buddies are texting you wondering what’s going on. I had a feeling something was up and I guess that feeling was right.”
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Benn had one goal and eight assists in the first 31 games with Vancouver.
The Jets are Benn’s fourth NHL team after making previous stops with the Canucks, Montreal Canadiens and Dallas Stars.
“Pretty crazy to get the chance to play in an awesome city, in an awesome hockey town,” he said. “And get a chance to taste the playoffs again.”
His old team, the Canucks, still haven’t returned to action since their COVID outbreak. But Benn was not affected as he already tested positive for COVID-19 at the start of the season.
“I tested positive, but I had zero symptoms the whole way through,” said Benn. “I was skeptical that I even had it. But obviously I wanted to get my blood work done and to see if I had the antibodies. The blood work showed that I had the antibodies in my system, so when the outbreak happened, I wasn’t too concerned that I was going to get it again.
“Just making sure that if something were to happen at the rink, I didn’t want to bring it home to my baby girl or my fiance.”
Benn will wear number 40 with his new club, and with 548 NHL games under his belt, he becomes the Jets most experienced blueliner.
“He plays physical, he’s good on the penalty kill from I remember playing against him,” Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey said. “He’s a tough player.”
Benn played with both Thompson and Nathan Beaulieu with the Canadiens, and was even paired with Beaulieu for a brief spell.
There’s no guarantee Benn gets into the lineup right away though as he could be tabbed to be their seventh defenceman for some veteran depth.
“I’ve obviously talked to them,” said Benn. “Nothing too in depth yet. We’re just trying to get there as fast as possible.”
But Benn does bring some versatility with experience playing on both sides of the ice.
“When I started my career in Dallas, I think it was (Stephane) Robidas who got hurt, so that right side was open, and they threw me in on the right,” Benn said. “It just kinda stuck for a few years there. Obviously, went to Montreal and I played with Beaulieu there. I was on the right and he was on the left. And then every now and then I get thrown in on the left.
“I started this year on the right and moved over to the left, so I mean, it’s nice to be able to do both. It just helps out and gives me more opportunity.”
The Jets take on the Ottawa Senators in the rematch on Wednesday. Benn’s first opportunity to suit up will come on Saturday when the Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at Bell MTS Place.