Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 04/15/14 at 08:36 AM ET
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
Lehtonen last was in the postseason in 2007 as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers. Just 23 at the time, he had helped the Thrashers make the playoffs for the first time by forging a 34-24-9 record. In the opening game against the New York Rangers, he lost a 4-2 contest and was replaced by Johan Hedberg in Game 2. In Game 3, he returned and allowed seven goals in a 7-0 loss, and that’s the last memory he has of the playoffs.
But he said that’s not a problem for him.
“I’ve gotten pretty good at not looking back at all,” he said. “The past is too far away, so I don’t want to carry that or look back on that. To me, I have worked all year for this moment, and I think I’m ready.”
And yet he does appreciate the maturing he’s done. He was, after all, the second overall pick in the 2002 draft. So when the Thrashers traded him to Dallas for defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy and a fourth-round draft pick in 2010, it was clear Atlanta had given up on him. Lehtonen said he used that motivation to drop 20 pounds, get himself in better shape and start to understand the position of goaltending.
“One of the things I love about Kari is he is a real battler,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said. “People tell him he’s injury-prone or out of shape, and he proves them wrong. People say he can’t get us to the playoffs, and he proves them wrong. He lets his actions speak for him.”
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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