Benn removed from NHL COVID-19 protocol, can rejoin Stars

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Jamie Benn rejoined the Dallas Stars after being removed from NHL COVID-19 protocol Tuesday.

The forward was the only player remaining in protocol after 10 players were removed Monday.

Forwards Radek Faksa, Luke Glendening, Roope Hintz, Joel Kiviranta, Michael Raffl and Jason Robertson, and defensemen Jani Hakanpaa, Esa Lindell, Miro Heiskanen and Ryan Suter returned to practice, along with two support staff members.

The players could be available when the Stars are next scheduled to play, at home against the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

“Guys have been at different stages as far as how they’ve felt,” Stars general manager Jim Nill told the Dallas Morning News. “Some guys have been real lethargic, other guys no problem at all. It’s over the last 2-3 days that everybody’s tested out. We had a big group test out today.”

Tweet from @DallasStars: Mondays can be good days!! pic.twitter.com/6jbZWSJFQ8

Joe Pavelski leads the Stars with 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) in 29 games. Robertson (25 points), Hintz (22 points), Heiskanen (18 points) and Benn (15 points) are their next four highest scorers. Heiskanen (24:32), Lindell (22:53) and Suter (22:48) average the most ice time.

“Will we be rusty? Who knows?” Nill said. “But we’ve got to go win games. It’s just the way it is. Our guys have been good. We’ve dealt with this over the last two years.”

The Stars (15-12-2) are sixth in the Central Division. They last played Dec. 20, a 7-4 win against the Minnesota Wild in Dallas, and have had six games postponed.

Since then, Hakanpaa entered protocol Dec. 24; Robertson, Raffl, Kiviranta, Heiskanen and Faksa on Dec. 26; Lindell and Hintz the next day; and Benn, Glendening and Suter on Dec. 29.

Tweet from @DallasStars: The sweet sounds of #TexasHockey 😌 pic.twitter.com/c0c5MFQhPt

Joining the returning players at practice Monday were forwards Ty Dellandrea, Riley Damiani and Rhett Gardner, defenseman Thomas Harley and goalie Adam Scheel, all of whom are on the taxi squad. Also practicing was forward Tanner Kero, who left a game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 18 on a stretcher after a hit by Blackhawks forward Brett Connolly. Kero, who sustained a concussion, wore a full cage and a non-contact jersey.

Photo courtesy: Dallas Stars

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