|Born|| November 16, 1983 |
|Height||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Weight||205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)|
| NHL team|
| Dallas Stars|
|NHL Draft|| 2nd overall, 2002|
Kari Lehtonen (born on November 16, 1983) is a Finnish professional ice hockey goaltender currently playing for the Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League (NHL).
He was selected second overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers becoming the highest-drafted European goaltender as well as the highest Finnish player ever in NHL history.
Early Playing CareerEdit
Kari was drafted second overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers after an outstanding 2001–02 season in the Finnish SM-liiga.
He was the backup goalie for Jokerit, but captured the starting position and won the Urpo Ylönen trophy, given to the best goalie of the season and the league's playoff MVP award, the Jari Kurri trophy.
He stayed with Jokerit for one more season before crossing the sea.
During the 2003–04 NHL season, Kari mostly spent his time with the Chicago Wolves, the Thrashers' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, but he was called up for a number of occasions and played four games for the Thrashers, winning all four of them and posting one shutout.
After posting a .953 save percentage and 1.25 goals against average (GAA), Kari spent the majority of the year in the AHL.
Kari spent the 2004-05 NHL lockout season with the Wolves, adjusting to the North American playing style.
After playing 57 games for the Wolves (of which he won 38, posting .929 save percentage and 2.27 GAA), the Thrashers called Kari up and he started the 2005–06 season as the starting goalie for Atlanta.
On the opening night of the 2005–06 season, Kari suffered a serious groin injury when Florida Panthers center Nathan Horton collided with him. The injury sidelined him for 35 games.
On April 6, 2006, Kari was once again injured when Tampa Bay Lightning forward Chris Dingman collided with him. He tried to get to his feet, but he sprained his ankle in the process.
He also set his career highs in every category. AirTran Airways (a low-cost airline) signed Kari as an endorser for the 2006–07 season.
On February 8, 2007, Kari became the Thrashers franchise leader for wins by a goaltender with 49, surpassing Pasi Nurminen's record of 48.
On April 12, 2007, Kari was the starting goaltender for the Thrashers in their first NHL playoff game.
After a rough start to the 2007–08 season, he suffered another groin injury on October 18, 2007.
Kari would miss 16 games before returning on December 5, 2007. He finished the season with a respectable save percentage to go along with four shutouts as the Thrashers failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Prior to the start of the 2010–11 season the Stars signed him to a three-year, $10.65 million extension.
In his first full season in Dallas, Kari compiled a 34-24 record with a 2.55 goals against average.
He and the Stars were officially eliminated from contention for a seed in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs after losing to the Minnesota Wild on the final day of the regular season.
On September 4, 2012 (the day before the 2012–13 NHL lockout), Kari signed a 5 year deal worth US$29.5 million.
Awards & AchievementsEdit
- Urpo Ylönen trophy for best SM-liiga goaltender (2002 and 2003)
- Jari Kurri trophy for best player during the playoffs (2002)
- Sm-liiga champion (2002)
- 2004 World Cup of Hockey (runner-up)
- Silver Medal in the 2007 IIHF World Championship
- Best Goalkeeper in the 2007 IIHF World Championship
- Atlanta Thrashers franchise leader for games played by a goaltender (204).
- Atlanta Thrashers franchise leader for victories (94).
- Atlanta Thrashers franchise leader shutouts (14).
- Atlanta Thrashers franchise leader for games played by a goaltender in a single season (68)
- Atlanta Thrashers franchise leader for saves in a single season (1,892).
- Atlanta Thrashers franchise leader for shutouts in a single season (4).
- Atlanta Thrashers franchise leader for starts in a single season (66).
- Atlanta Thrashers franchise leader for minutes played in a single season (3,934).
|Men's ice hockey|
|Competitor for Template:FIN|
|Silver||2004 World Cup of Hockey|
|World Junior Championships|
|Bronze||2002 Czech Republic|
|IIHF World U18 Championship|
While playing for the AHL's Chicago Wolves, the Hamburglar was featured on Kari's mask, an homage to the nickname he received shortly after arriving from Finland, and becoming enamoured with McDonald's hamburgers.
Kari also had a depiction of rapper Lil Jon (who is an avid Thrashers fan) on his mask.
In the past, he has worn helmets featuring characters Yuna and Rikku from the video game Final Fantasy X-2, as well as Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu's characters from Kill Bill.
However, Kari is not a video game fanatic. According to him: "I've never played it, but I saw a couple of commercials about the game and just thought it looked awesome."
Kari also had a mask made featuring Optimus Prime from Transformers which was never worn in a game, only in pre-game warm ups.
He also wore a mask that showed a depiction of Heath Ledger's Joker character from "The Dark Knight" with a stylized ATL featured on the other side.
Kari's first mask for the Dallas Stars depicted Clint Eastwood's character from the movie "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly."
Kari's second mask for the Dallas Stars features Chuck Norris. His former mask for the Dallas Stars featured characters and scenes from the movie "Tombstone."
On July 2, 2011, Kari married his longtime girlfriend Abbe Schutter in a private ceremony at the Club at Hammock Beach in Palm Coast, Florida. He met Abbe while playing in Atlanta.