Kari Lehtonen’s Peaks and Valleys
Below is the introduction to an article written by Jeff Angus from Defending Big D and Dobber Hockey on Kari Lehtonen and his improvements since coming over to Dallas from Atlanta. For added insight, he called upon The Goalie Guild to answer some questions on Lehtonen, and we were happy to oblige. Click on the DBD logo or the link at the bottom to read the full article!
It is crazy to think that Kari Lehtonen is only one year away from turning 30. Drafted second overall back in 2002 by the Atlanta Thrashers, Lehtonen’s path to elite goaltender (yes, he is there now) has been far from linear. He was able to succeed as a teenager in Finland and as a youngster in Atlanta because of his incredible athletic gifts – Lehtonen is 6-4 and 215 pounds and he moves effortlessly between the pipes.
This reliance on his natural gifts led to some problems for Lehtonen, though. He neglected his work in the gym, and his diet was not where it needed to be for him to sustain his performance over 50 or 60 games per season. His body continually broke down – fatigue, injury, mental errors, you name it, and Lehtonen has faced it.
The Dallas Stars took a chance on him a few years ago (they didn’t risk much though, sending borderline prospect Ivan Vishnevskiy and a 4thround draft pick in 2010 to Atlanta), hoping that he would be able to finally live up to the immense hype typically associated with a 2nd overall draft pick.
Lehtonen’s story is well documented, and I’m not going to bore you with many details that you are likely familiar with. Instead, I decided to gather a few relevant questions pertaining to the past, present, and future for Lehtonen in Dallas, and I posed them to Justin Goldman, the founder of The Goalie Guild, and an expert in the craft of stopping pucks.