The Dallas Stars officially announced this afternoon that Finnish right wing Jere Lehtinen has come to his decision at long last, and will retire from the National Hockey League.
He took his time, and Joe Nieuwendyk allowed him the space he needed to make a good decision and to get it right. He now feels as though he's done that and can move onto a life with his wife and kids that he so richly deserves after giving Stars fans so many special memories and performances over the years including the 1999 Stanley Cup Championship and 3 Selke Trophies (six nominations).
He told Stars PR:
"First of all, I wanted to thank Joe Nieuwendyk and the Stars organization for giving me some time to come to this decision. They respected the fact that I wanted to be 100 percent sure prior to making this announcement, and I appreciated that.''
"It's a tough decision to come to due to the fact that you play hockey your entire life and then must decide to stop playing. However, I choose to focus on all the great times I had playing over the past 15 seasons, understanding that I am very fortunate to have played all those years with one organization. The memories I have playing in Dallas will never be forgotten and I will always be proud of the fact that I finished my career where I started it.''
"There are so many people that have positively influenced my career, including the entire Dallas Stars organization, the coaches, the players, the trainers, the fans and most importantly, my family. To all of those people I want to say thank you. Everybody that touched my career in some facet, whether small or large, had an impact on me and I will always remember that. Thank you."
We'll have more on Jere in the coming days as we celebrate a magnificent career and a truly classy, generous, hard-working human being that set an example for so many in defining what it means to be a Dallas Star.