“I love Montreal. I love the city, love the fans and the guys here,» says defenceman who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
NEWARK, N.J. — Jordie Benn is very happy he’s still a Montreal Canadien.
Benn learned the hard way two years ago that anything can happen on NHL trade-deadline day when he was dealt from the Dallas Stars to the Canadiens in exchange for Greg Pateryn and a fourth-round pick at the 2017 NHL Draft.
“I called my agent a week before Dallas traded me and he said: ‘No, there’s no talk,’” Benn said after the Canadiens lost 2-1 to the New Jersey Devils Monday night at the Prudential Center. “And then a week later, I’m traded. So you never know.
“Obviously, it’s kind of in the back of your head while you’re sitting on the couch watching TV,” Benn added about how he felt Monday as the 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline approached. “I mean, it’s just one of those things. We’re in the business and if it happens it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
Benn, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, is very happy it didn’t happen.
“I love Montreal,” he said. “I love the city, love the fans and the guys here. We got something special in here. We got to push tomorrow night (against the Red Wings in Detroit) and we got 19 (games) left to do something special.”
The Canadiens headed into Tuesday night’s game against the Red Wings clinging to a wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Benn has spoken often this season about how good the attitude and chemistry has been in the Canadiens’ dressing room since Day 1 of training camp after last season’s disaster when they finished 28th in the overall NHL standings. Benn was happy GM Marc Bergevin didn’t make any major moves on Monday that might have disrupted the team’s chemistry.
“Berg and the coaching staff believe that we got something special in this room and I think every guy in here believes that, too,” Benn said. “The guys we got (before the trade deadline) are good guys and they’re good pieces to add to the chemistry we already have.”
Benn, 31, is in the final season of a three-year, US$3.3-million contract and would like to re-sign with the Canadiens. That’s something Bergevin will need to decide on after the season. In the meantime, the GM is happy to keep Benn. Benn has played some steady defence this season, with 4-12-16 totals heading into Tuesday night’s game along with a plus-13 while averaging 18:23 of ice time. He was four points away from matching his career high.
“If I move him, I got to get somebody to replace him,” Bergevin said after Monday’s trade deadline passed. “I like our group, I like what he brings. I think him and Brett (Kulak) have been very good in that (third) pairing. So why change that for something that I’m not sure. Again, he’s been a good part of our team.”