Dallas Stars to honor Jere Lehtinen for 25th Anniversary

After the 2017-2018 season, no player on the Dallas Stars will wear a No. 26 jersey. Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced on Friday the upcoming retirement of Jere Lehtinen’s jersey to honor him and his career with the Stars.

Lehtinen’s No. 26 will soon join Neal Broten’s No. 7, Bill Goldworthy’s No. 8, Mike Modano’s No. 9 and Bill Masterton’s No. 19 in the rafters of the American Airlines Center.

This honor was last awarded to Modano in March 2014, and will be given to Lehtinen during the Dallas Stars’ 25-year anniversary celebration.

So, why Jere Lehtinen?

Five Olympic appearances, eleven international tournaments, two NHL All-Star nominations, three Frank J. Selke Trophies and a Stanley Cup Trophy are a few of the accomplishments that contributed to Lehtinen’s legacy.

The Finnish right-wing played his entire 15-year NHL career with the North Stars/ Dallas Stars organization. Even though he was playing with his home country, the Minnesota North Stars chose Lehtinen in the fourth round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. 

In 1995, after Lehtinen won both the SM-liiga and World Championship, he traveled North America to begin his NHL career. He played a single game in the minor league and earned a spot in the Dallas Stars organization instantly.

Within three years, he had joined Modano on the team’s first line and earned his first nomination for the Frank J. Selke Trophy. Lehtinen won the trophy for best defensive forward during his 1997-1998, 1998-1999 and 2002-2003 seasons. 

In 1999, the Stars’ made the Stanley Cup Finals, where they faced the Buffalo Sabres. At the time Lindy Ruff, a familiar face to the current Stars’ team, coached the Sabres. The Stars defeated the Buffalo in game 6 of the playoffs, winning the 1999 Stanley Cup.

Lehtinen battled multiple injuries during the middle of his career, but did not let adversity stand in his way.

During the 2006 Winter Olympics, Lehtinen played an intricate role in Finland’s road to the gold medal game. The team lost in the finals to Sweden, but brought home the silver medal for his country.

Lehtinen contributed to three Olympic bronze and a silver medal for Finland in his five appearances. He is one of seven players to appear in at least five Olympic games and one of six to win four Olympic medals.  

Lehtinen announced his retirement on December 10, 2010, ending his career playing 875 NHL games, 243 goals, 514 points and a plus/ minus of +176. 

Hungry for more?  Watch the ceremony for Mike Modano’s jersey retirement here

Further reading about retiring No. 26: 

  1. “Jere Lehtinen to have number retired by Stars” by Sean Shapiro, nhl.com
  2. “Stars to retire Jere Lehtinen’s number 26 next season” by Adam Gretz, NBC Sports
  3. “Razor’s Roundtable: 2-11-17” Fox Sports

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