Dallas Stars: What Will Kari Lehtonen’s Legacy Be When He’s Gone?


As Kari Lehtonen steps into the crease and wins yet another road game for the Dallas Stars, you have to think: what will the Big Finn’s legacy in Dallas be when he’s gone?

There are a number of players on the current Dallas Stars roster who are building Hockey Hall of Fame cases, having been or being international superstars in hockey. Some of the luckiest ones will find their jersey number retired and raised into the rafters at American Airlines Center.

The players will probably tell you, if you asked, that they care not about a legacy. Hockey players are taught, through the culture in the National Hockey League, to be as vanilla as possible and show no emotion at all. But you can’t be fooled.

Everyone of us, the readers, the writer, the editors, care about legacies on this earth, whether that has been realized internally or not. We have but one life to live, and a reason to be remembered generations from now, when you’re long gone, is the ultimate goal.

The greatest players in Dallas Stars history will have their numbers honored and never worn afterwards. Nobody will wear Mike Modano‘s #9, nobody will wear Jere Lehtinen‘s #26. Sooner or later, when the Stars get it together, nobody will wear Sergei Zubov‘s #56.

More from Editorials

Their legacies in Dallas is being such a great player for a long period of time, becoming a fan favorite in the process, and cementing a place in Stars folklore forever. Which asks the question for the second-longest tenured player currently on the roster: What will Kari Lehtonen’s legacy be when he’s gone?

Lehtonen has been the butt of an uncountable number of jokes, has forever been criticized for his disappearance in high-stakes games, and at 34, has only won one Stanley Cup Playoffs series. Lehtonen will leave a bad taste in many Dallas Stars supporters’ mouths when he’s gone (Lehtonen is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season).

He has not exactly lived up to the expectations of a five-year, $29,500,000 contract given to him by former Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. He has buckled in the postseason and hasn’t been elite against divisional opponents.

Regardless, Kari has handled everything with maturity, professionalism, and selflessness. He is precisely what you would want in a starting goaltender who solidifies himself as the face of your franchise. Plus, he has quietly been perhaps the greatest goaltender in Dallas Stars history – that includes Marty Turco and Ed Belfour.

Live Feed

Toronto Maple Leafs: The Marlies Need a Goalie. But Who?
Toronto Maple Leafs: The Marlies Need a Goalie. But Who? /

Editor In Leaf

  • Pittsburgh Penguins left with few options for GoaliePens Labyrinth
  • Ice-Cold Takes Summer Tournament Final: Good dogs vs. golfingFanSided
  • Dallas Stars start free agency with a steal, sign goaltender KhudobinFanSided
  • 5 moves the Islanders can make to get back to the playoffsFanSided
  • Nashville Predators Set Franchise Record With Ninth-Straight WinPredlines
  • In his time with the Stars, Lehtonen has had a rotating pool of horrendous backup goaltenders, some less than stable defensive systems around him, and with Ken Hitchcock, Lehtonen is on his fourth full-time head coach with Dallas.

    Despite all of this, Lehtonen has the best save percentage in the history of the Stars amongst goaltenders with at least 50 games played. His .912 mark is better than Turco, better than Belfour, and better than Roman Turek.

    That mark was achieved in the bankrupt era of the Dallas Stars, during which the Stars missed the postseason in five consecutive years. In that span, where we had to say goodbye to lifelong heroes like Modano, Zubov, Turco, and Lehtinen, Kari was the reason to tune in and watch the Stars. Thing could have, and really should been worse without him.

    The Stars threw Antti Niemi at him to turn the goaltending tables, and have tired to replace him various times with goaltending prospects like Jack Campbell. Lehtonen wouldn’t go, he was just too good. And any time it felt like Kari had lost a step, he went on a stretch that made us fall in love with big #32 again.

    His life in the crease was/is that famous Jacques Plante quote: “How would you like it in your job if every time you made a small mistake, a red light went on over your desk and 15,000 people stood up and yelled at you?” Lehtonen has had a smile on his face throughout the load of crap he was thrown into, and we should all appreciate that.

    If Kari Lehtonen is remembered for anything besides how outstanding he was on a team with Sheldon Souray as a top-four defenseman and Michael Ryder playing top-line forward minutes, then we have failed as a generation of Stars fans.

    Lehtonen’s legacy will hopefully be the admirable, professional goaltender who gave his heart and soul to the team in exchange for absolutely nothing during the best years of his life. Kari Lehtonen may not be your favorite goaltender, but he has earned some sort of respect and a solid legacy to be remembered forever.

    Next: Dallas Stars Outlook For the Month of February

    His #32 won’t appear in the rafters at AAC, barring some unbelievable stretch of play into his 40s, but Lehtonen has been a wonderful asset for a Dallas team that, during his heyday, was horrifically bad. Kari forever.