“Jamie and I hear the message. I think the whole team hears it,” Seguin said after he and Benn participated in the team’s optional skate on Saturday. “We know that we have to play better, and we understand that.”
On Friday, Lites, according to The Athletic, told reporters that Seguin and Benn have been “f—ing horses—; I don’t know how else to put it.”
Lites, who said the feeling is also shared by team owner Tom Gaglardi, continued to unload on the team’s star players.
“For me, it’s pissed me off,” Lites said. “What nobody says is what is completely obvious to me: We are getting terrible play from our top two players. … We are a stars-driven league, and our stars aren’t getting it done. … These guys are not good enough. They’re not good enough for me; they’re not good enough for the owner.”
Benn, the Stars’ captain who has a team-high 15 goals to go with 15 assists, said he wasn’t aware Lites felt that way.
“I don’t play for him [Lites] ,” Benn told reporters Saturday. “I play for every player in this room and the coaching staff. I come to the rink and, like I said, I’m proud to be a Dallas Star and proud to go out there every night and battle with these guys in games. I’ve really put my teammates first.
“… I think knowing there’s a situation within the organization, I try to keep it within the organization and deal with it face-to-face.”
Seguin, who signed an eight-year, $78.8 million extension in September, also said he hadn’t talked to Lites since the end of last season and was caught off-guard by his comments.
“A little bit of a surprise there. I guess, in one aspect, because I obviously didn’t know how he felt,” Seguin said Saturday. “So it came as a bit of a surprise. But I said it yesterday in practice that I understand I need to be better.
“Jamie understands that he needs to be better, and we need to lead this team to be better. I think our organization needs to be better. I think everyone is frustrated the last couple of years, and it kind of came on us.”
The Stars are eighth in the Western Conference standings with 41 points — just nine points behind current No. 1 Winnipeg — entering Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. Dallas finished one point out of a playoff spot last season.
“No one gets in sports to be mediocre, and facts are we’ve been mediocre,” Stars coach Jim Montgomery told reporters Saturday. “We all need to be better, and we got to do it together.”
“I come to the rink every day, you know,” said Seguin, who is tied for second on the team with 11 goals and has 21 assists. “The Stars are my heart and they’re my team. They’re where I wanted to be and why I signed here, so I’m going to continue to work.”
Seguin said that although he hasn’t talked to Lites since last season, he’s open to having a conversation.
“I mean, my phone is out there, my number is out there,” Seguin said. “I’m not complaining about [hitting] posts. I’m not ‘wah-wah.’ I’m not whining about it. If anyone asks how many posts I’ve hit, I say, ‘Yes, of course I do. I’m a hockey player. I’m a goal scorer.’
“But I’m going to continue to grind, continue to shoot, and continue to get those areas and try to score goals.”