In hockey-mad Montreal, Jordie Benn finally takes center stage -- with brother Jamie's blessing

"He can be Jordie Benn now and not Jamie Benn's brother, which he got a lot in Dallas," Jamie Benn, left, says of his older sibling. "He's got a great opportunity with a great team. He's fit in well.'' Montreal Canadiens

MONTREAL -- Jordie Benn and Jamie Benn met in the bowels of the Bell Centre late Tuesday night, with their first head-to-head NHL matchup in the books, one brother playoff-bound with the Montreal Canadiens and the other cheering him on.

"I find myself watching the Habs games a lot now when we're not playing," Jamie, the Dallas Stars captain, said as his brother stood beside him. "He looks good out there. He's worked hard to get where he is today. He's always had that never-quit attitude. He deserves everything he gets. And hopefully he'll get a Stanley Cup this year.''

Was Jordie blushing as his younger brother uttered these words? It's hard to say what was going on under that Brent Burns-esque beard of his.

But the smile the defenseman is sporting these days seems permanent. The shock of being traded away from the Stars on Feb. 27, away from his brother, was quickly replaced by a sense of opportunity with hockey's most famous franchise.

"There's no point in dwelling on getting traded," said Jordie, 29. "You have to jump in headfirst and get right into it. It took me an hour to pack. Then I was on a plane, and I played the very next night in a different jersey. It was shocking. I didn't have time to think, but the guys here are all great, and it's been good.''

Jordie Benn has been arguably one of the most effective trade-deadline pickups this season, slipping in seamlessly on Montreal's third pairing and making smart decisions with the puck.

In Montreal, he has a chance to slip out of his brother's shadow, and that isn't lost on anyone, including his younger sibling.

"It's obviously a great opportunity," said Jamie, 27. "We've said it before, and we've said it to each other: He can be Jordie Benn now and not Jamie Benn's brother, which he got a lot in Dallas. He's got a great opportunity with a great team. He's fit in well.''

Veteran Stars center Jason Spezza scoffed when asked about the perception of some in Dallas that the defenseman made the team only because he was Jamie's brother.

"If you're around the team, you know that's not at all what the reason is. He was actually one of our top defenders and a really reliable guy," Spezza said. "I guess you'd always have that comparison because you have a superstar brother, but he's an important part to any team. I'm sure they'll find out in Montreal how valuable he's going to become -- not just on the ice but in the room. He always has a good attitude, he doesn't complain, he's a team-first guy, he had a hard road to get to the NHL, and I think he appreciates it a lot. You can tell by just his work ethic and how he carries himself.''

Jordie indeed took the road less traveled to the NHL. He never played Canadian major junior or U.S. college hockey. Rather, he competed in Tier 2 junior in the British Columbia Hockey League and then in the ECHL in his native Victoria, British Columbia. Eventually, he made it to the AHL before finally getting a call-up to join his brother in Dallas five years ago.

"It's still absolutely shocking that either one of them is playing in the NHL. My wife and I still haven't gotten over it,'' Randy Benn, the boys' father, told ESPN.com over the phone Tuesday after the Stars-Habs game.

Randy, too, has seen his older son make the most of his opportunity in Montreal and step out of his brother's considerable shadow.

"Most definitely, I think it already has come to fruition,'' Randy Benn said. "He's already become his own self.''

The Stars essentially traded Jordie because they feared losing him for nothing in the upcoming expansion draft. Still, few saw it coming -- not even the Benn brothers, who were sitting around in Jamie's house in Dallas when it happened.

"I got the call [from GM Jim Nill], and I just twisted my phone around and said, 'Jamie, look at this.' And he goes, 'Oh no,''' Jordie said with a chuckle. "Every guy in the league has his phone on two days before the trade deadline. If your GM calls, you're pretty sure you're going somewhere.''

Added Jamie: "I was right beside him when he answered the phone from Jim Nill. We didn't see it coming. It happened so fast. We saw who was calling him, took a big gulp, packed up his stuff for the next hour and shipped him off to the airport.''

Jordie's first question for Nill: Where am I going?

"He said, 'Montreal.' I mean, you can't come to a better city and a better hockey town,'' Jordie said.

Then, well, March 28 was circled in a hurry: Dallas at Montreal, the brothers going head-to-head for the first time in a hockey game at any level.

"Mom sent us a text before the game. It said: 'Go Stars. Go Habs. Please don't fight each other.' So we listened to our mom,''' Jamie said with a laugh.

"It was definitely different, that's for sure," Randy Benn, who was watching from home, said moments after the game ended. "I kept losing track: Which way am I going here? But it was fun watching.''

The brothers paused to take a photo during warmups -- a suggestion by former teammate Patrick Eaves, who had texted the Benn brothers earlier in the day with the idea.

"I guess Patty's dad and his dad's brother played against each other one time and took a picture together and still have it hanging around the house," Jamie said. "So Patty said we should probably do it. We figured, 'Why not?' A picture will last a lifetime.''

Up next for Jordie? The playoffs in hockey-mad Montreal. He can't wait.

"I've been told by a few older guys who have played here that I haven't seen anything yet," Jordie said. "[When] Montreal is in the playoffs, the whole city shuts down. It's like football in Texas when the Cowboys are playing. I'm excited for the opportunity to play for the Canadiens and put the jersey on. We'll see where this roller coaster goes.''

Jamie will be cheering him on every step of the way.