Category Archives: Jere Lehtinen

Highlight of the Weekend

More memorable than the win on Friday and that horrific loss last night was the tribute and ovation given to Jere Lehtinen during Friday’s game.

It was so touching, and I’ll admit that it got me choked up.  God, Lehtinen’s so classy.  He’s so humble that he probably only expected a few seconds of a tribute on the video board, not a two-to-three minute standing ovation.

It’s nice that we got to honor Jere like that.  With any luck, we can someday honor Sergei Zubov with his own standing O as he never did get a proper send-off.

No matter, some day in the not-so-distant future, we’ll get to honor all three of our franchise guys, Lehtinen, Zubov, and Mike Modano when we retire their numbers.

Thanks for everything, guys.

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I’ll Miss You, Mr. Lehtinen

A great hockey player retired yesterday.  If you’re not a Stars fan, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Jere Lehtinen, but that’s basically the story of his career.

Jere retired the way he played: quietly, with grace.  All summer long, we Stars fans worried and moaned over Mike Modano’s impending departure but never really gave much thought to the quiet Finn who had faithfuly served us for 14 seasons.

But that’s ok, because Jere wouldn’t have wanted us to stress over his potential retirement.  Lehts was the kind of guy who never thought about his points, yet would never accept a point that wasn’t rightfully his (that truly happened). 

The thing about Jere Lehtinen is that he was the perfect hockey player.  He never racked up points the way Mike Modano did, but Jere was the perfect balance of offense and defense.  He knew how to play offense, but more importantly, he understood how to play in his own end.  Lehts was only ever a minus once in his entire career (last season) and he finished with a career plus-minus of +176.  A team comprised entirely of Jere Lehtinen clones would win the Cup year after year, no problem.

There really aren’t a ton of moments that really stand out from Jere’s career, but there a couple.  One, is Jere’s goal in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals in 1999.  I will forever be amazed at how that goal went in.  The second, is April 8, 2010.  The night truly belonged to Mike Modano, but it was made even more emotional (for me, at least) when Jere scored the clincher in the shootout.  So perfect that Jere Lehtinen, a complement to everyone he played with, would seal the win.

My hope is that Jere Lehtinen will get his number retired, and it probably will be.  Real Stars fans know just how valuable he was to the franchise.  Jere was one of a kind and is completely irreplaceable.

Thanks for everything, 26.

It doesn’t feel so strange anymore…

You could call this a former Stars update of sorts.  What I really wanted to talk about is how I haven’t missed Mike modano, Marty Turco, or Jere Lehtinen the way I initiallay thought I would. 

To be honest, I don’t feel their absence.  What I originally thought would be a huge gaping hole in the lineup really isn’t.  What I mean to say is that I thoguht things would never feel “normal” without those three guys on the team. 

At the beginning of the season, Mo, Lehts, and Turco were conspicuously absent, but after going undefeated for four games, I forgot about them not being there. 

We have an amazing young team, you guys.  The Pacific and the West are tough, but we’re not out of it yet.  Brad Richards is making a case for a Hart trophy nomination; Loui Eriksson has turned into an elite sniper; Jamie Benn and the kids are improving every game; Kari Lehtonen has carried this team all season.

All of this…without franchise favorites like Mike modano, Jere Lehtinen, and Marty Turco.  Their absence doesn’t feel odd and unpleasant anymore.  There is no hole in my heart, the lineup, or otherwise.

Be thankful for the team we’ve got.  Even though we may not make the playoffs, we’re in the best shape in two years.  Keep on believing.

Realistic Expectations

Last season, I said the Stars would win the Stanley Cup.  Obviously that didn’t happen, and I was, after all, being overly optimistic.  Let’s be realistic now.

The Stars won’t win the Stanley Cup next year, no matter how much you or I want it to happen.  Cry your tears now.

Better?  Okay, let’s be serious now.  While the Stars most definitely won’t be Cup winners, they just might be able to make the playoffs.  Maybe.

We have a really nice young team (minus the defense /eyeroll) that might be able to prove the haters wrong and exceed expectations.  Sure Fabian Brunnstrom is a waste of space and a failure at life, but guys like James Neal, Jamie Benn, Mark ‘Fists’ Fistric, and Nicklas Grossman make up for that.  Remember, with every season, our youngsters are just a bit older and more experienced.  In today’s league, that can be kind of a big deal.

As for the veterans, we have Brad Richards, who is coming off of a campaign that saw him finish seventh in the league in scoring to the tune of 91 points.  Atta kid, B-Rad.  Brenden Morrow should be back to normal (oh Lawd he better be) after 2008-09’s ACL injury and last year’s questionable leadership.  Stephane Robidas starts the first year of his new contract. Karlis Skrastins won’t tire because of thise darn Olympics.  Mike Ribeiro will hopefully adjust to Marc Crawford’s system.  Things just might be less mediocre than last year.

Mike Modano, Marty Turco, and (more than likely) Jere Lehtinen aren’t returning.  The old order is gone.  Guys like Brad Richards, Kari Lehtonen, and Loui Eriksson will be relied upon to bring this team back to the playoffs.  I have faith in the Stars to be better than last year.

Bottom line, the playoffs aren’t an unreachable goal.  It’ll be a tough journey getting there, but I know the guys have it in themselves to do it.  Even if they do stink it up again, I’ll still have fun cheering them on.

I’ll be pessimistically optimistic until it’s official the season’s done and over for them.  But no matter what those crazy guys end up achieving, this should be fun.

Y’all ready for this?

This Is It

For Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen, tonight just might be it for them.  I’m hoping that it isn’t, as we all are, but the day we’ve been dreading for awhile might have finally arrived.

Face it: we all knew they’d have to retire someday, we just never really thought about when that day would come.  Those days of taking our guys for granted are long gone.  Tonight might be all we have left with them. 

It’s going to be gut-wrenching pain for me while watching the game tonight.  I just can’t bear the fact that this might be the end of an era.  It’s so sad.  I hate to say it , but Mo and Lehts are goners.  After such a great home finale on Thursday night, there’s no way they’ll play another year.  There’s just too much irony going on.

The fact that tonight’s game is Minnesota is a great story for the end of a career.  He’d leave the game of hockey in the best way possible: with a successful home finale and a final game back where it all started.  I’m selfish, you’re selfish, we’re all selfish; we want “one Mo year.” 

All I’m saying is that if this is really it, the game will have lost two fine, classy players in Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen.

To Mo, Lehts, Turco, and the other Stars who might be playing their final game in a Stas uniform tonight, I give you all an exuberant, “Thank you.”

Thanks for the memories, guys.  I’ll never forget the good ol’ days.

Let’s party like it’s 1999.  Make it happen.

Go Stars! 

The Last Song

You just can’t make this stuff up.   I mean, you really can’t.  The home finale couldn’t have gone more perfectly.   It was amazing in every way possible.

What a way to send Mo, Lehts and Turco off in style.   All three had great games, and were the three stars of the game.  They deserved it.  There aren’t enough words to describe my joy about last night.

To describe it best, last night was irony galore.   I liked the little touch of Mike Modano-wannabe extraordinaire, Bobby Ryan, getting both Duck goals.  I loved that Mo and Lehts were vintage Modano and Lehtinen.  It meant a lot to me as a Stars fan that those two won the shootout for us.

Now, admit it: all you really wanted was for Mike Modano to get a goal in the final home game.  I’ll come right out and say that that’s what I wanted.  It’s what we all wanted.  I think he needed to score one last time at home for us to be satisfied.  I wanted to hear the roar of the crowd and the ovation he got if he scored a goal.  Never mind that his stick was a tad high.  The refs HAD to give it to him.  That’s what you do for a classy player who’s about to hang up the skates.  I cannot stress enough how perfect it was.

Every time that Modano got the puck, you could hear this collective gasp.  Even if it was a mere dump-in, we couldn’t help but get excited.  We wanted that Modano goal bad.  Thank the hockey gods we got it.  And a creative little assist for that matter, as well.  

To be honest, as soon as I saw that we were going to a shootout, my mind went wild.   All I could think about was how wrong it was that it had to end in a shootout loss.  Hiller had been outstanding throughout the game and let’s face it, it hasn’t exactly been a great year for shootouts.  But there was a big part of me that believed we could win it, just for the hell of it.  I knew Mo would shoot and when he made it, I literally jumped out of my seat and started screaming out of happiness.   Then, when I saw Jere getting ready to shoot all I was thinking was, “No.  There is no freakin’ way it’ll end like this.  Nothing goes that perfectly.”  Needless to say, I’m glad I was wrong.

A side note to last night’s game is Philip Larsen who made his debut.  I just wanted to recognize that, since it was obviously overshadowed by Modano, Lehtinen, and Turco.  I liked what I saw from Phil and I’m eager to see him as a full-time Star.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I will cherish April 8, 2010 forever.  Rarely is a meaningless regular season game so compelling, so epic.  I’m so thankful that we the fans got the opportunity to send off three great Dallas Stars, unlike the way we never got to give Sergei Zubov a proper, much-deserved good-bye.   

For twenty seasons, we’ve watched Mike Modano be our franchise.  It’s always been a lot of the same: goals, assists, franchise records, that jersey flapping in the wind et cetera.  Last night, we finally saw the great #9 do something different.

He broke down and cried.

Thanks for everything, Mo, Jere, and Turco.  Thank you so, so much.

Say it with me…

ONE MO YEAR! LEHTS GO STARS! 

You’d better believe it.

Turco’s Last Stand

So.  This is the end of the Turco era.  I just wanted to say how truly sad that makes me feel.  He’s been a constant on this team for a long time.  Whether you liked him or not, it’s hard to let someone like that go.

I just wanted to say, thank you, Marty, for everything you’ve done for us.  You’ve been a great person, if not a great goaltender.  I’m sorry that we Stars fans have to part with you in a bittersweet ending, but that’s how it goes sometimes.  Thanks again, Mr. Turco.

Equally sad is the fact that this might be the last time Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen play in front of the home crowd.

Say it with me,

ONE MORE YEAR!

Please.

Go Stars.