Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn is called for a 5-minute major and game misconduct for a cross-checking penalty against Vegas Golden Knights’ captain, Mark Stone, in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final (Courtesy of Steph Chambers/Getty Images).
As the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, tensions among players are on the rise.
In this year’s battle for the Stanley Cup, five players have been suspended in playoff competition so far. This includes Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn, who is the most recent player to be reprimanded by the NHL.
Benn was ejected and consequently suspended for two games after cross-checking Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone on May 23.
The penalty came 1:53 into the first period of Game 3 after Benn collided with Stone. While Stone was on his back, Benn put both of his hands on his stick, dropped to his knees, and forcefully pushed his stick down on Stone’s head and neck area.
Rule 59 from the NHL rulebook states that an official can eject a player for a cross-checking penalty “…if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by cross-checking.”
In a video released by the NHL announcing Benn’s suspension, they declared that Benn had control of the play at all times and made the decision to cross-check a vulnerable player. The league also called Benn’s decision “unnecessarily dangerous.”
After the game, Benn refused to speak to the media for post-game comments, however, some of his veteran teammates shared their support for their captain.
“Emotions get the best of all of us at some point. We move on. He wears it as much as anybody. He’s a tremendous leader,” said Dallas Stars center and alternate captain Joe Pavelski.
Pavelski, who was captain of the San Jose Sharks for four years, was also asked if he was disappointed with Benn after the Stars’ Game 3 loss.
“No,” Pavelski said. “You guys ask if I’m disappointed in a guy that I got so much respect for, and we battle so hard. I got no problem with [Benn]. We needed to be better from there and we weren’t.”
Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin also spoke positively about Benn.
“Jamie’s one of, if not the best, captain in this league,” Seguin said. “Top leader. Collectively we lost as a group tonight.”
On May 24, the day after Game 3, Benn decided to speak with reporters about his penalty.
Benn claimed his actions were “heat of the moment” and he needed to be more responsible with his body and stick. Additionally, Benn stated that cross-checking Stone was the result of him falling.
“Obviously, didn’t want to take a five-minute penalty, but the game happens fast, emotions are high. Obviously would’ve liked to not fall on him and I guess, use my stick as a landing point,” Benn said.
Following Benn’s penalty and game misconduct, Game 3 only got worse for the Stars.
On the powerplay that ensued because of Benn’s penalty, Vegas forward Ivan Barbashev scored his fifth goal of the playoffs. Less than two minutes later, forward William Carrier scored to give Vegas a 3-0 lead.
(Courtesy of Jerome Miron/USA Today)
During the second period, Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo scored to make it 4-0. This goal came a second after the Stars successfully killed a Miro Heiskanen penalty.
As the second period was winding down, Stars’ forward Ty Dellandra took back-to-back penalties, and forward Max Domi received a cross-checking penalty for hitting Vegas defenseman Nicolas Hague in the back. Domi and Hague got into an altercation after the hit, and Domi was awarded a roughing minor and a 10-minute misconduct on top of his cross-checking penalty.
After Domi’s multiple penalties and altercation, Dallas fans let their frustration be known.
Fans booed the players and threw garbage, food and drinks onto the ice. Some fans sitting in the upper levels were also throwing things, causing fans sitting in the lower bowl to be hit with trash.
Officials stopped the game with 21.6 seconds left in the second period and sent the Golden Knights and Stars players back to their dressing rooms early.
However, fans were still upset when the teams reemerged for the third period. Vegas goaltender Adin Hill even had popcorn dumped on him after the second intermission.
“I guess everything was hitting me tonight,” Hill said. “I have never seen that much [debris] on the ice though, that’s for sure.”
A Dallas Stars employee tries to clean up popcorn that was thrown by a fan as the Vegas Golden Knights take the ice for the start of the third period in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final (Courtesy Steph Chambers/Getty Images).
On May 24, the Dallas Stars President and CEO, Brad Alberts, released a statement on the team’s social media accounts, apologizing for the actions of Stars fans.
“Their actions were unacceptable and put the safety of the players and fans at risk. We take pride in providing the best experience for everyone who enters our arena,” Alberts said. “The actions of these individuals certainly do not reflect our great city, organization or loyal fan base.”
Although the Stars were able to win two games without their captain, the team ultimately lost to the Golden Knights in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final.
The Vegas Golden Knights will face the Florida Panthers in the 2023 Stanley Cup Final.