FRISCO, TEXAS - Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites ripped captain Jamie Benn and fellow high-priced forward Tyler Seguin, telling reporters Friday their play has been “terrible” and saying owner Tom Gaglardi was frustrated as well.
Lites requested the interviews, saying he believed Seguin and Benn deserved more public criticism with a team Lites says is underachieving. Dallas started the day holding the final playoff spot in the Western Conference but has expectations of a higher finish.
The longtime Stars executive told The Athletic that the Stars would be in danger of missing the playoffs for the ninth time in 11 seasons without better play from Benn and Seguin. Lites told The Dallas Morning News both players “think it’s easy, and that’s what bothers me.”
Benn signed an eight-year, $76 million contract in July 2016, and Seguin signed an eight-year, $79 million extension before this season that kicks in next year.
Seguin and Benn are the team’s top two scorers with 32 and 30 points, respectively, in 38 games. Seguin leads with 21 assists, Benn with 15 goals.
But neither is in the top 50 in the NHL in points after both finished at least among the 20 best their first four years together before that run ended last season. Benn led the league in points in 2014-15.
“We don’t question their desire to win, but they think it’s easy, and that’s what bothers me,” Lites told the Dallas newspaper. “There’s just too much complacency in their games. Lack of attention to detail, and that’s what we need. Accountability and attention to detail and hard work.”
Both players said they needed to improve after being told by The Athletic that Lites was critical of them.