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Dallas Stars Player Spotlight: Kari Lehtonen

Throughout the years, the Dallas Stars have had their fair share of great goaltenders, from Ed Belfour to Marty Turco and Andy Moog, and Kari Lehtonen is no exception. Game after game, Kari stops shots and does his best to keep his team’s head above the water, often making sensational saves that looked as if the puck was going in the net for sure.  Winning practically every award possible in Finland and displaying great talent and skill in the NHL, Kari has made a reputation for himself as a great goaltender and come to be a fan favorite in Dallas.

Kari Lehtonen was born on November 16, 1983 in Helsinki, Finland. Kari began his professional career in Finland in the 2000-01 season with the Jokerit in the SM-liiga (Finnish Elite League). Kari played his first season as a backup, only playing in a total of four games, but managed to come back the next season as the head goaltender, winning the Urpo Ylönen trophy as the best goaltender in the league, something he would do a second time the very next season. Kari also managed to win the Jari Kurri trophy that season as the best player in the playoffs, as well as leading his team to the SM-liiga championship.

Kari entered the NHL as a part of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, being chosen in the first round, 2nd overall, by the Atlanta Thrashers, making him the highest drafted Finn in NHL history. Kari played one more great season with the Jokerit before making his way to the AHL, splitting the next two seasons between the Chicago Wolves and the Thrashers. Kari played well with Atlanta before he made his move to the Lone Star State when he was traded to the Dallas Stars on February 9, 2010 for Ivan Vishnevskiy and Dallas’ 4th round pick in the 2010 draft.

Kari finished the 2009-10 season as the backup for Marty Turco, but after Turco did not resign with the Stars after that season, Lehtonen stepped up as the head goaltender for the Stars, also signing a three-year, $10.65 million extension before the start of the 2010-11 season. Since then, Kari has managed to impress the Dallas crowds and has grown to be one of the most popular (and goofiest) players on the Stars.

Without Kari, it is easy to say that the Stars would be one of the bottom teams in the NHL. Kari is one of, if not the, most important member of the Dallas Stars, a role that is often overlooked, but greatly appreciated. Day in and day out Kari is there for his team, never letting up and doing his best to get his team the win, and for that the fans and team are very grateful.

I end this asking one question: Where would we be without our Kari?

A new star is rising in Dallas.

 

Fun facts about Kari Lehtonen:

  • Kari wears number 32 because the only thing cooler than being cool is ice cold. (Get it… water freezes at 32°F)
  • Kari has been known for his interesting masks depicting people and things such as, the Hamburglar, rapper Lil Jon, Heath Ledger as the Joker, Optimus Prime (this mask was only used in pre-game warmups, Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu (as their characters in Kill Bill), Clint Eastwood, Chuck Norris, and several others.

 

 

Brendon Carlton

Brendon Carlton

21 year old aspiring film director/producer, writer, and lifelong fan of hockey and the Dallas Stars. Dallas Stars contributor for Hooked on Hockey Magazine
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