It's finally the end of August, and training camp is a mere weeks away. For about a month now, news concerning the Dallas Stars has been slow, as the team is apparently done signing free agents, the sale is moving on slowly behind the scenes and GM Joe works quietly on re-signing James Neal and Matt Niskanen.
But ever since the offseason slowed down for the club, one nagging question has remained: What's going on with Jere Lehtinen?
Today, we (kinda, maybe) have some news. Today, Sportsnet published a story online with the headline "Lehtinen To Retire". The article cited a story from a Finnish publication, which (thanks to Google Translate) reads:
One of the long Finnish Playing career is ending. Jere Lehtinen is seriously considering leaving.
Lehtinen, 37, met the Dallas CEO Joe Nieuwendykin last week, but that did not take place, that category should be continued.
Lehtinen did not participate in training camp in Dallas.
Seriously think about a career in an end, eh?
"Yes, you can put it in there. Is it true," Lehtinen said.
Summer placements Lehtinen took lightly. Their own words, he spent a difference in the summer. It was a step towards a career in the end.
Obviously, Google Translate is a bit shaky on this one. (I know we have some Finnish-speaking readers out there, this is your time to shine!). But taken for what it's worth, Lehtinen is at least seriously considering retirement at this point, if we are to believe that article.
You'll remember that Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reported last week that Jere had met with GM Joe and he had not yet reached a decision, and Joe has no deadline for said decision. However, taking a look at the roster and the fact that the Stars currently have 23 players under contract (with two still unsigned) it appears as if the Stars are fully prepared to move on without Mr. Yellow Skatelaces.
Update: Heika again, after talking with Jere, says he has NOT made a decision yet. [LINK]
Now, this isn't an instance of Nieuwendyk "pushing" Lehtinen out; this is an example of Nieuwendyk takes the steps necessary to be prepared in case Lehtinen decides to retire. More so than with Mike Modano, it appears as if the Stars knew going into the summer that Lehtinen was not going to make a decision until just before training camp.
For many, Jere Lehtinen represented everything that has defined Dallas Stars hockey over the years. While Modano provided the flash and Sergei Zubov was the defensive quarterback, Lehtinen was the perfect combination of defensive prowess and offensive ability. Remember when he was the leading scorer on the Stars for a couple of seasons in a row?
It's going to be sad to see him go. Lehtinen is the last remaining remnant of those glory seasons in 1999 and 2000.
Judging by his comments both last season, this summer and above, it certainly appears as if retirement is what is on his mind.