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Kari Lehtonen
KLehtonen.jpg
Born November 16, 1983 (1983-11-16) (age 35)
Helsinki, Finland
Height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight 205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)
Position Goaltender
Catches Left
NHL team
Former teams
Dallas Stars
Jokerit
Atlanta Thrashers
National team Flag of Finland.svg Finland
NHL Draft 2nd overall, 2002
Atlanta Thrashers
Playing career 1999–present

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.

Playing CareerEdit

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.

Atlanta ThrashersEdit

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.

Shortly into the 2006–07 NHL season, Kari broke the Atlanta Thrashers shutout streak record previously held by Michael Garnett.

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.

Dallas StarsEdit

On February 9, 2010, Kari was traded to the Dallas Stars for Ivan Vishnevskiy and a 4th round draft pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft (Ivan Telegin).

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.

Career StatisticsEdit

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP W L T/OT MIN GA SO GAA SV% GP W L MIN GA SO GAA SV%
2000–01 Jokerit SM-l 4 3 1 0 190 6 0 1.90 .937
2001–02 Jokerit SM-l 23 13 5 2 1242 37 4 1.79 .941 11 8 2 623 18 3 1.73 .940
2002–03 Jokerit SM-l 45 23 14 6 2634 87 5 1.98 .928 10 6 4 626 17 2 1.63 .941
2003–04 Chicago Wolves AHL 39 20 14 2 2192 88 3 2.41 .926 10 6 4 663 23 1 2.08 .942
2003–04 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 4 4 0 0 239 5 1 1.25 .953
2004–05 Chicago Wolves AHL 57 38 17 2 3378 128 5 2.27 .929 16 10 6 983 28 2 1.71 .939
2005–06 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 38 20 15 0 2166 106 2 2.94 .906
2006–07 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 68 34 24 9 3934 183 4 2.79 .912 2 0 2 118 11 0 5.59 .849
2007–08 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 48 17 22 5 2707 131 4 2.90 .916
2007–08 Chicago Wolves AHL 2 2 0 0 124 4 0 1.93 .934
2008–09 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 46 19 22 3 2624 134 3 3.06 .911
2009–10 Chicago Wolves AHL 4 1 1 2 247 11 0 2.67 .899
2009–10 Dallas Stars NHL 12 6 4 0 663 31 0 2.81 .911
2010–11 Dallas Stars NHL 69 34 24 0 4119 175 3 2.55 .914
2011–12 Dallas Stars NHL 59 32 22 4 3497 136 4 2.33 .922
2012–13 Dallas Stars NHL 36 15 14 3 1986 88 1 2.66 .916
SM-l totals 72 39 20 8 4065 130 9 1.92 .933 21 14 6 1249 35 5 1.68 .941
NHL totals 380 181 147 35 21936 989 22 2.71 .914 2 0 2 118 11 0 5.59 .849

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

RecordsEdit

  • 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).

International PlayEdit

Medal record
Men's ice hockey
Competitor for Template:FIN
World Championships
Silver 2007 Russia
World Cup
Silver 2004 World Cup of Hockey
World Junior Championships
Bronze 2003 Canada
Bronze 2002 Czech Republic
Silver 2001 Russia
IIHF World U18 Championship
Silver 2001 Finland
Gold 2000 Switzerland

MasksEdit

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."

Personal LifeEdit

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.