Dallas Stars Goalie Kari Lehtonen Talks Olympics, His Quick Start and Sitting On The Net in Calgary

Ben Nelms

The Stars netminder sat down with a Finnish language website last week and gave a wide-ranging interview that covered everything from the new rules about goalie pads to sitting on the net during the win over the Calgary Flames.

Every once in a while, you stumble across a Dallas Stars player interviewed for a foreign language publication and just know it needs to be translated for the greater Stars fan audience.

Last week was one of those times, as Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen gave a lengthy interview to a Finnish hockey website that covered a wide range of topics, from his possible participation in the 2014 Winter Olympics to how he's dealing with the smaller goalie pads to the depth of the Western Conference. It's also one of the more candid interviews I've ever seen from the generally soft-spoken netminder.

Frequent DBD commenter Henri Muroke translated the interview for us, and we give a ton of credit to him for that (as well as for the awesome interview with Esa Lindell, which ran yesterday).

The original Finnish article, which was written before the Stars 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, can be found here at Suomikiekko.com, and author Tommi Seppala covers Finns in both Finnish and English at his Twitter account.

If you wander over to either of those links, be prepared for umlauts. Lots and lots of umlauts.

Again, thanks to Henri for the awesome work. Here's the translation:

"Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen's season is heading forward the usual way. His game is on, his statistics look good and even his annual visitor the groin injury is history.

Kari Lehtonen's Dallas Stars are about to finish their four game road trip in Vancouver. So far the trip has been a success. Even though they lost against Chicago (sic), after that they got two wins in Alberta, against Edmonton and Calgary.

In Calgary, Lehtonen had some fun with hockey fans and decided to take a seat on top of his goal few seconds before the game ended. On Sunday, the Stars will challenge the team that sits one higher than them in the standings, the Vancouver Canucks.

On Saturday, Dallas was practicing at Vancouver's Rogers Arena, and the former prospect of Jokerit met with SuomiKiekko-site. (FinlandPuck)

Tomi Seppälä: Kärppä (Kari's nickname in Finland, means a weasel, it translates as sharp, but in English that words means nothing funny), you took a seat on top of your goal just before the game ended?

Kari Lehtonen: Heh! I was told after the game that please don't do it anymore. I guess some people were upset because of that.

How do you feel about the season's start of your team?

We have been playing well, especially in roadtrips. We have a good group and a chance to win every game, which is a really good thing for me too.

Your annual groin injury came during the October again?

Yes, the groin went "boom". It seems that this happens every year while the season is still young. I hope it's okay now. We have been searching for different reasons, why it gets hurt always during the first month of the season.

Have you found any reasons yet?

One option is to skate twice a week during the summer, therefore "the goaliemuscles" would have some work for the whole summer. If you don't skate in 4-5 months, I believe that there are muscles that you can't train enough while you are at the gym or with other kind of training

You have had many injuries during your career. How do you relate to them nowadays?

You just know when the injury happens and you think about it for a long time, even after it's healed. Thankfully I have been healthy for a while and I am not thinking about that last one anymore.

You had some back-to-back games, even if it's not very common in the NHL. Who makes these decisions?

They (coaches) just ask how do I feel. They'd like to see me playing, but I don't have to. As long as it feels good, why not?

You have a new coach this season. Glen Gulutzan joined John Tortorella's staff in Vancouver and you have now Lindy Ruff, who was fired from Buffalo. Have there been any winds of change with Ruff?

All kinds of systems come and go all the time, but I don't really know much about them. Perhaps there are less games now, where guys get many really good scoring opportunities against me. Perhaps there were more situations like that before. I even had some easy games a while ago.

So, are you saying that five men defensive game (or playing as a unit of five) is getting better?

Yes, that is one way to see it.

In the NHL the goalie pads got smaller. Have there been any signs of that affecting your game because of this?

Not really. I played with bigger pads last season, so now I just took back the size I had before that. The bigger challenge have been these smaller goal creases. Wrap-arounds are much quicker now and I have seen situations like that more now. And pucks are bouncing back from the end of rink, earlier they often stopped on the edges of my crease. But I have no problems with my new gear.

How do you feel about the hard Western Conference this season?

It has been a surprise. The competition is really hard. I got the feeling that almost all the free-agents went to the Eastern Conference, but still the west feels even tougher than before. Still, I don't like to look standings that much while the season is still young. It really is tough. It feels like we have won a lot lately, but it won't show in standings.

Have you thought about Sochi?

Yes, it's on my mind. The competition is very hard. Perhaps I thought a bit less about that before the season, but I probably had much more smaller chances to be a part of the Team Finland. Now I have been playing well and Pekka (Rinne) had some injuries and other stuff. Now it feels more realistic dream for me. I'm very interested in participating.

What kind of experience would it be, if you could join the team?

Joining the team would be only a half of everything. You also want to have some success there and help your team. You want to play in the medal games. It would be the perfect thing then.

Finland has a fine trio of goalies anyway. Would you be willing to participate for the Olympics as a third goalie, without any certainties that you will play?

Yes, I would. I think it's better to pick the three best ones, the ones who deserve the spot. We are still pretty young and there's a chance that it would be the first Olympics for all the goalies. I don't see anyone getting upset, even if they wouldn't play. We are all professionals. It is what it is, when there is only one real spot."

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