Dallas Stars: Retire Jere Lehtinen’s Number, Hire Ken Hitchcock, Come Full Circle
As of this coming October, the Dallas Stars will be celebrating their 25th anniversary of their move from Minnesota. And what a fun ride it has been.
A Brief List Of Facts About The Dallas Stars
The Stars moved from Minnesota to Dallas in 1993. After residing in Minnesota since 1967, the Stars would be forced out of Minnesota for financial reasons. As the North Stars, the team had a few good years, but did good enough to “get by”. While there were a few solid accolades for the North Stars, they only went deep in the playoffs twice One season saw them a game away from the Stanley Cup Finals. Another season saw them actually in the Stanley Cup Finals. However, nothing as noteworthy would happen thus forcing them out of Minnesota. Once moving to Dallas, that is when they started building for a championship. 1993-94 saw the Stars make it to the Conference Quarterfinals and lose. However, when the draft arrived, the Stars picked Todd Harvey and Jamie Langenbrunner.
1994-95 saw Dallas lose again in the playoffs, in the same exact round. During this season, the Stars would trade Russ Courtnall to Vancouver, for Dan Kesa and Greg Adams. The Stars would also acquire a draft pick for that season’s draft. 1995-96’s season saw the Stars not make the playoffs at all. But, they received Joe Nieuwendyk from Calgary in exchange for Jarome Iginla.
On January 8, 1996, Ken Hitchcock was hired by the Dallas Stars as the new head coach.
The 1996-97 version of the Stars, however, saw them finish first in their division. But yet again, they exited in the second round of the playoffs. One notable transaction: Dallas trades Kevin Hatcher to Penguins for Sergei Zubov.
1997-98’s season was one where Dallas positioned itself for an even deeper playoff run. During the regular season a very deep, talented roster would win the President’s Trophy for best overall record in the regular season. The Dallas Stars would make it to the Conference Finals but ultimately lose. But yet again, they were still building something up.
The 1998-99 season brought the Dallas Stars the most success. Finishing first in the division, the Conference and carrying a 51-19-12 record with them to win the Stanley Cup. While they eventually went on another Stanley Cup Finals trip a year after winning, the Stars wouldn’t get any closer in Hitchcock’s first stint as coach. However, four big names carried this team during the successful years. Brenden Morrow, Jere Lehtinen, and Mike Modano.
Thoughts On Jere Lehtinen
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 Goldsworthy’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.
Career Accomplishments For 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.
Lehtinen was also a key component in the Stars’ 1999 Stanley Cup Finals series 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.
Stars Come Full Circle, Hire Hitchcock, And Prepare For Upcoming Expansion Draft
After the Dallas Stars relieved Lindy Ruff of his duties, they found themselves in need of a coach. Coincidentally, Ken Hitchcock was mulling over retirement before the Stars contacted him. In what was roughly a day’s worth of notice to fans, the Stars brought back a beloved coach. So, here we go. Again. It’s not bad, however. Hitchcock is a “defense first” type coach. The defense was one of, if not the weakest part of their game. With that said, Jim Nill will most likely discuss who the Stars should protect.