When you think of Finnish hockey player greats, who comes to mind? Jari Kurri, Teemu Selanne and Sami Kapanen may ring a bell. To Stars fans though, there’s only one. Jere Lehtinen.
Lehtinen spent his entire NHL career with the Dallas Stars. He was drafted in 1992 by Minnesota but did not make his debut until the 1995-96 season. Lehtinen’s hard work soon saw him up on the first line with Mike Modano and earned himself a Selke nomination. In 1999, he would add Stanley Cup champion to his already impressive resume. He notched his first playoff goal in game six and assisted on Brett Hull’s controversial one. In the same fashion, he captured the Selke trophy becoming only the third player to win it in consecutive seasons.
Speaking of his impressive resume, internationally Lehtinen is a god among men. Lehtinen has suited up for Team Finland a total of 20 times in his career. He has 4 Olympic medals for Team Finland (3 bronze, one silver), and 4 World Championship medals (3 silver, one gold). He is one of only 6 hockey players to earn 4 medals in Olympic competition and one of 7 who have appeared in at least 5 Olympic games.
Lehtinen suffered from injuries for the 2007-08 season. As the years progressed, he officially announced his retirement in 2010. The flying Finn, ended his career with a plus/minus of +176. He never once finished a season in the minus until his final one. I’d say that’s one hell of a outing if there ever was one.
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