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goalie when healthy. His career save percentage of 91.2 percent ranks 16th of the 44 active goalies with more than 100 games played and he helped Atlanta to its only division title in 2007 when he went 34-24-9. But his back became an issue and surgery was necessary. Both

Lehtonen and the Stars are confident that he can maintain his health moving forward.

“My back is the best it has been in some time,” he said. “I have been working hard on my conditioning and (my back) should only get better with more strength. It’s funny, the hardest thing I find now is when I am sitting on the bench backing up Marty I get really stiff and I have to walk around. But I feel really good.”

He should feel really good about what lies in front of him. A new opportunity with an organization like the Stars could rejuvenate his career. And of course, the Dallas Stars have had success with players from Finland named “Lehtinen.”

“I was very excited when I heard the news I was traded to Dallas,” Lehtonen said. “It’s great to have a new opportunity with a team like this. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the organization and I am impressed with what I have seen so far.”

50 JANUARY 2010


Stars coaches began working with Lehtonen immediately, getting him on a regular work- out routine and implementing one-on-one sessions with goaltending coach Mike Valley.

“They’ve been great and I’ve already learned a lot from them,” Lehtonen said. “I will be spending a lot of the off-season in Atlanta and (strength coach) J.J. (McQueen) is planning on coming out to work with me some. And I plan on coming to Dallas to work on stuff too. Is should be good.”

He wasted no time in getting rid of his Atlanta Thrasher blue and red goalie gear. A new mask was tops on his list and what better way to symbolize the great state of Texas than with the one and only Clint Eastwood from his spaghetti westerns of the 1960s?

“I picked Clint after I was Googleing Texas and Dallas,” he said. “I found a lot of cowboy imagery and I remembered Clint and his cool roles from those westerns. I like it, it turned out very well.”

Lehtonen’s contract is also up on June 30, but unlike Turco he will be a restricted free agent and the Stars control his rights. The Finn goalie will most certainly sign a new deal with the Stars and be ready to help lead Dallas back to the playoffs next year. But first thing’s first – his focus is on the present.

“I haven’t really thought about next year too much yet. I’m just excited to get some starts and be a goalie in the NHL again,” he said. “It’s a great situation here and the future is bright.”

A football fan, one of Lehtonen’s goals next fall is to get over and watch the Cowboys play at their new stadium.

“I really like football and obviously this is an exciting place to be for that,” he said. “I also like all kinds of motor sports so I may try and check out a NASCAR event or something. But I want to learn all about Dallas and the different things the area has to offer.”

And hockey fans in North Texas will be eager to learn more of what Kari Lehtonen has to offer. While no one has ruled out bringing Turco back, the handwriting seems to be on the wall – his time in Dallas has come to an end. The time to turn the page is at hand.

Nieuwendyk has many big decisions in front of him in a very important off-season for the Dallas Stars. It’s safe to say he has a good option at goalie, both for next season and many more to come. Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84
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