Dallas Stars: Jere Lehtinen

DALLAS -- Prior to Saturday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild, the Dallas Stars honored former goaltender Ed Belfour for his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame

[+] EnlargeEd Belfour
Glenn James/NHLI/Getty ImagesFormer goalie Ed Belfour, who won a Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999, was honored in a pregame ceremony for his Hall of Fame induction.
Former Dallas teammates Joe Nieuwendyk, Jere Lehtinen, Mike Modano and Brett Hull were part of the ceremony, listing Belfour’s career accomplishments which included a Stanley Cup, two Vezina Trophies and 484 career wins, which ranks third all-time in the NHL.

As Belfour walked onto the ice fans greeted him with a chant of “Eddie! Eddie!”

The Stars presented Belfour with a Breitling watch and a plaque that will be displayed in the Stars’ Walk of Legends.

During the ceremony, Belfour was asked about his favorite memory of his stay in Dallas.

“Winning the Stanley Cup in 1999,” Belfour said. “It was a dream come true.”

Prior to the ceremony, Belfour was asked about those “Eddie! Eddie!” chants.

“Oh for sure [I could hear them],” Belfour said. “Yeah, that’s definitely one of those adrenaline builders. It always makes you want to play that much better.”

Belfour, who is building a house north of Dallas, said he has been taking it easy and could get back into hockey someday.

“Just pretty much taking it easy, enjoying my time -- a little bit of fishing, camping, outdoor stuff and hunting, enjoying my family and friends,” he said. “Maybe someday (I’ll get get back into hockey), been building a house the last year and a half has kept me real busy. Now that that’s done, maybe I can look at something like that.”

Belfour was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November along with Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour and Mark Howe.

“That was awesome. It was a great weekend, first class, treated us right from the time we got there,” Belfour said. “My mom and dad and all my friends were there. It was just overall a great weekend and something I’ll never forget.”

Saturday is Ed Belfour night

February, 3, 2012
Prior to Saturday night’s game against Minnesota at American Airlines Center, the Dallas Stars will recognize former goaltender Ed Belfour for his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Saturday’s ceremony starts at 7 p.m. sharp and fans are encouraged to get there early. Four of Belfour's former Dallas teammates - Joe Nieuwendyk, Mike Modano, Brett Hull and Jere Lehtinen - will participate in the ceremony. Stars broadcasters Ralph Strangis and Daryl Reaugh will be the emcees.

Belfour, who helped lead the Stars to the 1999 Stanley Cup, was inducted into the Hall along with Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour and Mark Howe in November.

Loui Eriksson back in town and skating

August, 30, 2011
FRISCO -- Forward Loui Eriksson is among the latest players to arrive in Frisco and start skating in preparation for training camp, which starts in less than three weeks.

Eriksson, who arrived in town this week, received a high-five from both Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro just before he took the ice on Tuesday. He also chatted briefly with new head coach Glen Gulutzan.

“It’s interesting. It’s going to be fun to get started to see how the new players look and, of course, the new coach,” said Eriksson. “See what system we are going to play. It’s going to be fun.”

Eriksson has spent the last few seasons on a line with Brad Richards, but that will change now with Richards moving on to the New York Rangers via free agency.

“Of course it’s going to be different, but that’s how it is,” Eriksson said. “Of course he is a real good player and I’ve been playing real well with him, but it’s going to be fun to see who I am playing with now. I think the whole team is ready to get started.”

Also starting to skate in Frisco this week are Toby Petersen, Philip Larsen and Brad Lukowich. They were joined on the ice today by Brenden Morrow, Stephane Robidas, Scott Glennie, Kari Lehtonen and Andrew Raycroft. Jere Lehtinen also skated and deflected the shots on Lehtonen and Raycroft before everyone else hit the ice. Benn and Ribeiro weren’t on the ice when I was there. They were meeting with the coaches.

Here’s some video, which includes some four-on-four play. Team White was Eriksson, Robidas, Petersen and Lukowich. Morrow, Larsen, Glennie and Lehtinen are Team Black.

FRISCO, Texas -- Joe Nieuwendyk and Ed Belfour won a Stanley Cup together with the Dallas Stars and now they’ll head into the Hockey Hall of Fame together.

Nieuwendyk and Belfour were two of four players elected to the Hall on Tuesday. Doug Gilmour and Mark Howe were the others.

Nieuwendyk, who was in his second year of eligibility, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP when the Stars won the Cup.

“I’m thrilled. I really am,” Nieuwendyk said at the Stars practice facility in Frisco. “It’s been a busy time with the draft and the work we have to do to get ready for free agency and this is a welcomed diversion, no question. I know how important it is in the history of the game and the select class of players that have gone into the Hall. I am thrilled to be a part of it.”

Nieuwendyk also won Stanley Cups with Calgary (1989) and New Jersey (2003). He won the Calder Trophy in 1988 as the NHL’s top rookie. He scored 564 goals in 1,257 NHL games.

“When you go through the course of your career you don’t think that you’re playing because you want to be a Hall of Famer. You play because you love the game and you love to compete and that’s what I tried to do over the course of my career,” he said. “I was fortunate to have success with a group of guys. To me that is what it is all about – the relationships and the teams that you have throughout your career. I was very fortunate in that regard.”

Belfour, who was in goal for the Stars when they won the Stanley Cup in 1999, made it into the Hall the first year he was eligible.

“It’s a great honor,” said Belfour. “I want to thank all my teammates that I played with over the years. Obviously, without them I couldn’t have had success. I want to thank all the great coaches I had over the years, my mom and dad, all my friends that backed me and that made me a better player and a better person on and off the ice. It kind of surprised me. There are a lot of mixed emotions because you always have it in your heart that you want to continue to play, but there is a point when it has to come to an end.”

Belfour was among the best goaltenders of his time, and his career numbers stack up among the best of all-time.

He’s third all-time in wins with 484, trailing only Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy. He’s tied for fourth all-time in games played with 963. He had 76 career shutouts, which is tied for ninth in NHL history. He won the Vezina Trophy twice, the Jennings Trophy four times and he won a Calder Trophy as well.

“I played with a lot of good goaltenders over my career and there was something ultra-unique about Eddie,” said Nieuwendyk. “I wouldn’t say he was socially with us all the time, but we knew he was preparing himself to play nets on any given night. He took his job very seriously. He competed at a high level and we knew Eddie was going to be there for us. If I had to go into a one game showdown, Eddie Belfour is the goalie that I would want in the net.”

Three players from that 1999 team are now in the Hall of Fame. Brett Hull is the other. Mike Modano is probably not far behind. Nieuwendyk thinks Sergei Zubov and Jere Lehtinen will get consideration as well.

“It’s a reminder of the special time that we shared here from the mid-to-late 1990’s and the players we were associated with. It really was a terrific time for all of us and for the fans of Dallas. You appreciate those things when you go through your career and you don’t have those opportunities very often. We all came together for a common goal and it was very rewarding.”
Nine former Dallas Stars/NHL alumni will be signing autographs during the first intermission of Tuesday's game against Columbus at American Airlines Center as part of the team's support of Bully Proof USA, a non-profit foundation that is committed to battling bullying in schools across America.

Brett Hull, Jere Lehtinen, Andy Moog, Bob Bassen, Gerald Diduck, Steve Duchesne, Steve Dykstra, Bill Huard and Landon Wilson are all scheduled to participate. Autographs will be limited to the first 200 people in line. The event will take place on the main concourse, near section 101.

Bully Proof also will be passing out free copies of its new book.

You can read more about it here on the Stars' official site.

Jere Lehtinen tribute

December, 11, 2010
One of the highlights of Friday night's game at American Airlines Center was the standing ovation for Jere Lehtinen, who was in the building watching the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes play. Lehtinen announced his retirement from the NHL Wednesday. The Stars put up video of the moment on their web site and here it is:

Stars-Hurricanes thoughts & observations

December, 11, 2010
Some thoughts and observations after the Dallas Stars beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in a shootout at American Airlines Center.
  • After a tough shootout loss in Columbus on Monday and then the 5-3 loss in Chicago on Wednesday, the Stars bounced back nicely in this one. They got off a good start and played a good first period. Carolina, which hadn’t played in almost a week, appeared to shake off the rust and got going in the second period and overall it was a tight game. Both goalies were very good, made great saves in the overtime and it came down to the skills competition.
  • Quote from Stars coach Marc Crawford: “We stuck with it. We got some great penalty kills in the third period and those were pivotal. In the shootout, Andrew Raycroft was just outstanding and what can you say about Brad Richards? He just finds a way to score. It’s such an important element in today’s National Hockey League, that you've got the shootout.”
  • They are 3-2 in shootouts and 2-0 in overtime. That’s 5-2 in games that have gone beyond regulation. Those are critical points when everything gets added up at the end of the season.
  • Andrew Raycroft had an excellent game. The save on Joe Corvo with 42.4 left in overtime was spectacular. A game-saver or a point saver in the NHL. When I saw the puck on Corvo’s stick I thought that was it. Great save.
  • Productive night for Richards. It always seems to be. He had the primary assist on James Neal’s goal in the first period and then scored the lone goal of the shootout.
  • Neal’s been on a roll lately. He has points in six straight games, registering four goals and four assists during the streak.
  • On the other side of the puck, the penalty kill was superb. It went 5-5 and is now 27-30 over the last ten games. According to the official stats, the Hurricanes got one shot on those five power plays. Of course, Carolina’s power play hasn’t exactly been lighting it up lately. It’s now 0-18 over the last five games.
  • The Stars power play didn’t have a great night either, going 0-4. It had some pretty good chances on the first opportunity but wasn’t quite as effective after that. Give Carolina some credit. It’s PK has been trending up lately.
  • A very nice moment when the Jere Lehtinen tribute was run in the building and then Lehtinen received a standing ovation as he was shown watching the game on the scoreboard. Lehtinen was obviously touched by the ovation. It was nice to see.

Stars down Hurricanes in shootout

December, 10, 2010

The Dallas Stars ran their points streak at home to 10 games (9-0-1) with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at American Airlines Center Friday night. Andrew Raycroft stopped 22 shots in the game and all three shots in the shootout. James Neal scored the Stars’ goal in regulation and Brad Richards scored in the shootout and had an assist in the game.

First period

The Dallas Stars lead the Carolina Hurricanes 1-0 after one period of play at American Airlines Center.

There was a lot of pace to the period, but each team only registered five shots on goal and only one made it past a goaltender.

The Stars scored that goal at the 9:39 mark when Brad Richards put a shot on net from the left point and James Neal got the rebound and lifted snapped the puck over Carolina goalie Cam Ward from close range.

Some notes from the first period:
  • The Stars were 0-2 on the power play in the period and the Hurricanes were 0-1.
  • The Stars won 8 of 17 faceoffs in the period.
  • D Maxime Fortunus was a healthy scratch for the Stars. G Kari Lehtonen (back), F Toby Petersen (hand), F Krys Barch and D Mark Fistric (conditioning assignment) were also out for the Stars.
Second period

The Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes are tied 1-1 after 40 minutes of play at American Airlines Center.

After the Stars missed on their third power play chance of the game and Stephane Robidas hit a post and had the puck skip along the goal line, the Hurricanes drew even at 9:03 of the second period.

Following a Stars’ turnover at the Carolina blue line, Troy Bodie set up Jiri Tlusty, who beat Stars goalie Andrew Raycroft with a shot from the slot to make it a 1-1 game.

Some notes following two periods:
  • Jere Lehtinen, who retired earlier this week, was in attendance at the game. There was a brief video tribute to the 1999 Stanley Cup champion and three-time Selke Trophy winner. When Lehtinen was shown on the scoreboard he received a lengthy standing ovation from the crowd.
  • The Stars outshot the Hurricanes 11-9 in the second period and have a 16-14 advantage for the game.
  • Both teams are 0-3 on the power play in the game.
  • The Stars have won 16 of 32 faceoffs.
Third period

The Stars had one power play in the period and the Hurricanes had two, but neither team could cash in on the chances and the game remained 1-1 at the end of regulation. The Stars have a 7-5 shots advantage in the period.


The Stars had several great chances in overtime, but Cam Ward stopped Mike Ribeiro and then two rebound attempts by Brenden Morrow. Ward came up big less than a minute later, stopping James Neal on a wrap-around and then Brad Richards on the rebound.

Andrew Raycroft and answered Ward’s brilliance, making a spectacular glove save on Joe Corvo with 42.4 seconds remaining in overtime to keep it a 1-1 game and get the Stars to a shootout.

Eriksson, Dallas: Ward made poke check save, Tied 0-0
Jokinen, Carolina: Wrist shot, save Raycroft, Tied 0-0
Richards, Dallas: Wrist shot beat Ward blocker side, Dallas 1-0
Skinner, Carolina: Wrist shot, save Raycroft, Dallas 1-0
Ribeiro, Dallas: Wrist shot, Ward pad save, Dallas 1-0
Staal, Carolina: Wrist shot, save Raycroft, Dallas wins 1-0

    The king of little things

    December, 9, 2010
    PM CT
    It was the kind of answer that summed up Jere Lehtinen. Asked about being one of only four players to ever win the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward three times or more, Lehtinen, the ultimate team player, quickly turned the subject to team.

    “It means a lot, but I don’t want to take individual trophies too much because it is the team that wins and loses,” said Lehtinen. “Those trophies showed how our teams were at those times, how we played as a whole team.”

    Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk, a member of those great Dallas teams of the late 1990’s, said Lehtinen was a big part of the equation back then and his influence still reverberates through the organization now.

    “A lot of things that we have in place that we are very proud of in our Dallas Stars organization are because of Jere Lehtinen,” said Nieuwendyk. “Kids like Loui Eriksson and Brenden Morrow learned what being professional was all about - the hard work and work ethic every day - and they learned that from Jere Lehtinen.”

    Lehtinen officially announced his retirement on Wednesday. He was at the Dallas Stars practice facility in Frisco Thursday afternoon, catching up with some of his former Dallas Stars teammates and other members of the organization, chatting and taking pictures with some fans and talking to the media about his career and why he decided to call it a career after 14 NHL seasons.

    “It’s tough to make the call, but a week ago I realized I was 100 percent ready to do it,” he said. “It wasn’t easy. It’s sad, but I am kind of happy that I am going to turn the page. Tomorrow is a new day. I hope I am going to stay involved in hockey and I am going to do that because I love the game so much.”

    Injuries took a toll on Lehtinen. He missed more than 90 games over his final three seasons. Nieuwendyk, who left the door open for Lehtinen to return this season if he wanted to, said there would be a place in the Stars organization for the 37-year-old when he is ready to decide what’s next. The Stars are, after all, the team Lehtinen played for his entire NHL career.

    “I’ve been so lucky to play here all my career, 14 years,” Lehtinen said. “I am so proud to have stayed here and that the organization gave me the chance to stay here. Overall, there were good times and bad times with the injuries and they supported me. Until this day, they are still there.

    “I want to thank the organization and all the players I played with here, the coaches and trainers. Everybody treated me great since I got here in 1995. That’s why it’s even tougher to let it go,” Lehtinen said. “Of course, the whole town of Dallas has been great for me. It’s the same thing with the fans. They supported me. Today they still support me and that’s special. You can’t put it in words.”

    Lehtinen was part of something special during his playing days as a Star, helping the team win the Stanley Cup in 1999. He scored ten goals that playoff year. Only Nieuwendyk scored more. In the Cup-clinching game in Buffalo he scored the Stars’ only goal in regulation and then assisted on Brett Hull’s Cup-winner in the third overtime.

    “The Stanley Cup, of course, that’s the best memory,” Lehtinen said as he reflected on his time in Dallas. “The whole playoffs, but especially that last game in Buffalo. That’s a memorable moment, but also the first time I got here and my first NHL game in Winnipeg.”

    That first game was October 7, 1995. His last was April 10, 2010 in Minnesota. There were 875 games played, 243 goals, 271 assists, seven seasons where he scored 20 or more goals, including two where he topped 30. And there were another 27 goals and 22 assists in 108 playoff games. There were the three Selke Trophies. He was a finalist three other times.

    There was more to Lehtinen than stats and awards. He was the master of game’s details. Some have called him the king of little things.

    “There’s a special category of guys who don’t cheat the game. The play honestly, they play the game the right way, do the right things with the puck and do the right things away from the puck,” said Nieuwendyk. “That’s a select group of players, in my opinion, and [Jere’s] the head of the class.”

    Making a mark on the ice wasn’t limited to his NHL career for Lehtinen. Before he came to North America there was hockey in Finland, where Lehtinen started skating at four-years-old. He became a star in Finland as a member of the “Huey, Dewey and Louie” line (along with Saku Koivu and Ville Peltonen) that led the Finns to gold at the 1995 World Championship. He helped Finland win four medals in hockey – three bronze and one silver – at the Olympics.

    As a youngster growing up he admired fellow Finn Jari Kurri, a member of those great Edmonton Oiler teams of the 1980’s.

    “That’s where it started. I started to follow him and TV started to show the Edmonton Oilers when they won the Stanley Cup, “Lehtinen said. “He was kind of my idol and then later on Teemu Selanne because he was playing in Finland. Those two guys showed me what it takes to get here.”

    And once Lehtinen got here he proved to be a model of consistent excellence and an example to players and an organization.

    “He was the guy that when I got here the coaches –Doug Jarvis or Ken Hitchcock or Rick Wilson – would always say when you’re not playing, watch that guy,” said Morrow, who arrived in the fall of 1999. “I think he had a lot to do with the team’s success, playing the game the right way, not cheating and stopping and starting. It’s a harder way to play and it’s the right way.”

    While Lehtinen ponders what comes after playing, he’s enjoying time with his family. He’s still a team player, the master of details and the king of little things.

    “Spending time with the family, that’s been great,” he said. “This fall there’s been no hockey, no travel and it’s been great to spend time with the kids, get to know their hobbies, see what they do every day. It’s been fun and I think they appreciate that I am around more.”

    Catching up with Jere Lehtinen

    December, 8, 2010
    PM CT
    Former Dallas Stars forward Jere Lehtinen took his time in deciding to retire. He wanted to be sure about the decision to stop playing the game he loved and excelled at for so many years.

    "It's been your life, and it's tough to say this is the end," Lehtinen said after the Stars officially announced his retirement from the NHL. "I didn't have that feeling before, but now it's there and now I realize that it's time to do it. I am 100 percent sure of that. I wanted to get that feeling before I did it."

    The decision to retire came after 14 NHL seasons, all of them with the Stars. It was a career that included a Stanley Cup, three Selke Trophies as the NHL's best defensive forward (1998, 1999, and 2003) and 514 points (243 goals, 271 assists) in 875 games.

    Lehtinen pondered retirement after last season, his third straight season limited by injuries. The Stars left the door open for him to return this season, but Lehtinen was still undecided when the team opened training camp in September. Finally reaching a decision brought mixed emotions.

    "It feels kind of sad, but it’s a pretty good day," Lehtinen said. "It’s been a lot of years to play, a lot of games, and I've been pretty fortunate to play that long. It's coming to an end, and it's basically been my whole life.

    "I am going to miss the game. You ask anybody that's retired and that's the main thing and being around with the guys. Now I am looking forward and seeing what's out there without hockey. It's not going to be easy.”

    Lehtinen said he isn't sure what's next. He doesn't know if he'll stay in North America or return to Finland. Is there a future in coaching? Not sure, he said.

    "Everything is up in the air," he said. "We’ll see."

    For now he's taking advantage of his time away from the game.

    "This fall I've been doing a lot of stuff with family," he said. "That's been a great time."

    Jere Lehtinen retires

    December, 8, 2010
    PM CT
    Jere Lehtinen made it official today. He's retiring from hockey.

    Lehtinen, who battled injuries the previous three seasons, had been pondering since the end of last season whether to return to hockey or retire. Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk had kept the door open for a possible return this season, but today Lehtinen closed the door.

    "First of all, I wanted to thank Joe Nieuwendyk and the Stars organization for giving me some time to come to this decision. They respected the fact that I wanted to be 100 percent sure prior to making this announcement, and I appreciated that," Lehtinen said in a statement released by the Stars. "It’s a tough decision due to the fact that you play hockey your entire life and then must decide to stop playing. However, I choose to focus on all the great times I had playing over the past 15 seasons, understanding that I am very fortunate to have played all those years with one organization. The memories I have playing in Dallas will never be forgotten, and I will always be proud of the fact that I finished my career where I started it.

    "There are so many people that have positively influenced my career, including the entire Dallas Stars organization, the coaches, the players, the trainers, the fans and most importantly, my family. To all of those people I want to say thank you. Everybody that touched my career in some facet, whether small or large, had an impact on me and I will always remember that. Thank you."

    Lehtinen, who turned 37 in June, played 14 NHL seasons, all of them with the Stars. He registered 514 points (243 goals, 271 assists) in 875 games. He ranks third in franchise history in games played, seventh in goals and eighth in points.

    He led the Stars in goal scoring three times: 2002-03 (31 goals); 2005-06 (33 goals); 2006-07 (26 goals).

    Lehtinen was a member of the Stars'1999 Stanley Cup championship team. In the Stanley Cup Final against Buffalo, he scored the Stars' first goal in Game 6 and then assisted on Brett Hull's Cup-winning goal in the third overtime.

    A fourth-round pick (88th overall) in the 1992 NHL Draft, Lehtinen ranks fourth in franchise history in playoff games played (108) and sixth in playoff goals (27).

    He won the Selke Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s best defensive forward, three times (1998, 1999, and 2003). He's one of only four players to win it three times or more. Bob Gainey (4), Guy Carbonneau (3) and Pavel Datsyuk (3) are the others.

    Lehtinen also won four Olympic medals playing for Finland, picking up bronze medals in 1994, 1998 and 2010 and a silver medal in 2006. He helped Finland win a gold medal at the 1995 World Championship, as well.

    Lehtinen's first game with the Stars was October 7, 1995 vs. Winnipeg. His final game for Dallas was April 10, 2010 at Minnesota.

    Still no decision from Jere Lehtinen

    August, 30, 2010
    PM CT
    Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said Monday that there is still no decision from Jere Lehtinen, who is deciding if he wants to play his 15th NHL season.

    “I met with him the other day and I don’t think he’s really made up his mind,” Nieuwendyk said.

    Lehtinen, who has battled injuries the past three seasons, has spent the summer contemplating if he wants to put his body through the rigors of another campaign.

    A Finnish newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, reported Monday that Lehtinen is giving serious consideration to not coming back. The newspaper noted that Lehtinen has worked out less this summer, and that's a sign that he's not playing.

    “I don’t think he’s worked out as much as he usually does, but he has had a few workouts lately,” said Nieuwendyk. “He hasn’t really made up his mind, and we haven’t put a ton of pressure on him.”

    And it doesn’t appear there is the pressure of any kind of deadline. Training camp may be less than three weeks away, but that isn’t necessarily a deadline. The Finnish newspaper article indicated Lehtinen might not be at Stars training camp. Nieuwendyk acknowledged that could be the case, but he added that doesn't mean Lehtinen would be out of the picture. The Stars GM left the door open that Lehtinen could miss camp and join the team some time down the road.

    “I think there’s a chance of that. That option is there,” Nieuwendyk said. “Right now it’s up to Jere. I think now that’s he back and his kids are in school he’ll be able to get a better sense of what he wants to do in the next few weeks."

    And as of right now, Lehtinen hasn't made a definitive decision one way or the other.

    RFA watch

    Nieuwendyk said there was nothing new to report on restricted free agents James Neal and Matt Niskanen, who are still unsigned. The Stars GM did say he expects talks with both to pick up this week.

    Prospect note

    The Stars said doctors in Dallas will at some point further evaluate defense prospect Hubert Labrie, who suffered a knee injury recently at the training camp of the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

    Labrie, who is expected to be out a while, was scheduled to play for the Stars are the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan starting on Sept. 11. The team said there is no plan to replace Labrie on the roster right now since the Stars still have seven defensemen on the Traverse City squad.

    Money matters: Stars and the salary cap

    August, 26, 2010
    PM CT
    Here’s a look at the salary and salary cap situation for the Dallas Stars now that Nicklas Grossman has agreed to a two-year, $3.25 million deal with the club.

    The Stars now have just under $42.2 million committed in actual salary to 21 likely roster players.

    The two players left to sign are forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen. The Stars’ budget is said to be around $45 million so they would have around $3 million or so left to spend and fall within that range. There’s the possibility they could sign Jere Lehtinen, but if they do they’d have to move a player off the roster to make room.

    The Stars have been able to keep salary costs under control for this coming season by getting some players to take less money in the first year of their recent multi-year deals.

    For example, Steve Ott’s contract average’s $2.95 million over four years but his salary this season is $2.1 million. Kari Lehtonen’s contract averages $3.55 million over three years and he gets $2.7 million this season. Loui Eriksson averages almost $4.3 million over six years but he takes in $3.2 million in 2010-11.

    In the case of Neal, it wouldn’t be a surprise that if he gets a two-year deal that the money would be distributed in the same way – less money in the first year and more in the second.

    When it comes to salary cap costs, the Stars the Stars are just under $47 million for those 21 likely roster players. The cap cost figure includes the $1,937,500 hit the Stars still take for the New York Rangers claiming Sean Avery off re-entry waivers.

    The upper limit of the salary cap this season is $59.4 million and the salary cap floor is $43.4 million.

    Here’s a look at the Stars’ likely roster players along with 2010-11 salary and cap hit. I’ve used Andrew Raycroft as the backup goaltender. He and Brent Krahn will battle for the position in training camp and preseason.

    Kari Lehtonen on Jere Lehtinen

    August, 24, 2010
    PM CT
    There's still no word on whether Jere Lehtinen will play this coming season. Stars coach Marc Crawford has said he’d love to have Lehtinen return. Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen would love to see his fellow Finn suit up for another season as well, but he doesn’t know which way Lehtinen is leaning.

    “I saw him back in Finland and we talked once in a while. He’s a mystery man. No one knows what’s going on,” said Lehtonen, who spent a couple weeks in Finland this summer. “Everybody is trying to push him to come back. He’s one of those guys that everybody just gets energy from. He always gives everything, whether it is practice or a game. Hopefully we can get him back.”

    Lehtinen has been slowed by injuries the past three seasons and that’s taken a toll. He is deciding if he wants to go through the grind of another season. The Stars have been willing to give Lehtinen as much time as he needs to make the call.

    Lehtinen is back in town because his kids are going to attend school in the Dallas area this year. And with training camp a little more than three weeks away, his decision could be coming soon.

    TV tidbits

    The television schedule for the Dallas Stars should be out soon and there was some encouraging news on that front today. The Stars put this out on their official Twitter account late Tuesday afternoon:
    TV schedule is being finalized and it looks as though all 82 games will be available in HD this season.

    The NHL is expected to release the broadcast schedules for national carriers like NBC, Versus, CBC, TSN and others on Wednesday.

    Dallas Stars outlook: Forwards

    August, 22, 2010
    PM CT
    The forwards were a strength for the Dallas Stars in 2009-10 and there's optimism the group can be more effective this season.

    The forwards helped pushed the Stars to 11th in the league in scoring last season at 2.80 goals per game. That was fueled by several players who set or tied career marks for offensive production.

    Center Brad Richards bounced back from an injury-plagued season to tie his career-high in points (91). His linemates had big seasons as well. Right wing Loui Eriksson, who is establishing himself as one of the top young forwards in the game, set a career-high in points (71). Left wing James Neal saw both his goals (27) and points (55) totals increase in his second NHL season.

    Steve Ott set a career-high in goals (22). And then there was Jamie Benn, who put up 41 points (22 goals, 19 assists) in an excellent rookie season.

    The Stars believe things could be better in 2010-11. First, a couple of their top offensive weapons are in a position to rebound from subpar campaigns.

    Captain Brenden Morrow, who was coming off ACL surgery, saw his productivity drop last season, picking up just 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists).

    “I see him taking a huge step forward for the reason that he’s a year past that major injury,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford.

    Center Mike Ribeiro’s numbers were down last season as well and he missed considerable time due to a throat contusion.

    Ribeiro and Morrow bouncing back would be a big boost to the Stars’ second line, which would make the Stars an even more effective team up front.

    Then there is center Tom Wandell, who was off to a fine rookie campaign but was lost to an ACL injury in January.

    “Wandell coming back for us is significant. He was really coming into his own and playing quite well,” said Crawford. “That’s a significant improvement for us. He’s a defensive guy that can play against good people with speed and good people with skill. He’s such a smart player.”

    Benn helped fill the void at center last season, moving to the middle due to the injuries. He’s likely to see action at both wing and center this season.

    “The good thing about Jamie is he has the ability to play both and it’s his competitiveness that we like most of all,” said Crawford.

    And competitiveness is another are where Crawford and GM Joe Nieuwendyk think the Stars will see improvement in the forward ranks. The addition of Adam Burish, who won a Stanley Cup with Chicago last season, was a move to bolster that area.

    “There are guys in this league you notice because they are not fun to play against. Adam Burish is one of those guys,” said Nieuwendyk. “We have a number of people that are not going to be fun to play against. That's kind of what I envision. We're getting there.”

    Here’s Crawford’s take.

    “I do think we needed an addition of toughness, grit and determination, that type of player that is difficult to play against,” he said. “We got that in the re-signing of [Krys] Barch, the signing of Burish and the continued improvement of Ott. Looking at how competitive Jamie Benn was in the AHL playoffs, all those things lead me to feel good about where our aggressiveness is and where our determination level is.

    “That’s where I think one of the subtle improvements in our team will be. We won’t be quite as easy to play against as we were in the past. We were a team that relied a little more on skill than determination.”

    Those gritty, hard to play against types – Brian Sutherby and Brandon Segal also would fall into that category – should boost the bottom six forwards.

    “They’re relentless, they do the right things, they play hard and they’re no fun to play against,” said Crawford. “You’ve got to complement them with people that can skate and think. Wandell is that type of player.”

    Toby Petersen probably fits that mold of a guy who skates and thinks as well.

    Time will tell how everything fits together. The Stars have 14 NHL forwards on the roster as they prepare for training camp next month. It would be 15 if Jere Lehtinen decides to return, and that means someone would have to be moved. Either way, there will be some good battles in camp.

    “It will be good competition and it will bring out the best in our group,” said Crawford.

    The departure of center Mike Modano, who was not offered a contract by the Stars and has signed with the Detroit, will create some opportunities as well. Wandell will help fill the void at center. Benn could take up some of that role as well.

    There are also opportunities on the power player, where Modano ranked fourth in ice time per game among forwards last season.

    “Jamie Benn will get a fair bit of the opportunity,” Crawford said. “Jamie didn’t play a lot of power play last year and he’ll get the power play minutes that Mike had. On the other side of it, I think it gives more responsibility to everybody. It will start with Brenden Morrow and continue with Mike Ribeiro to be that half-board guy on the power play. I think it gives a little more continuous opportunity to James Neal and to Steve Ott.”

    Crawford said with Richards continuing to play point on the power play, Ribeiro, Morrow, Eriksson, Neal, Ott and Benn likely will be the forwards on the top two power play units. But a guy like Fabian Brunnstrom can benefit now that he’ll have a chance to move up the pecking order and possibly become the seventh forward in the power play rotation.

    “Last year he was so far down he was behind the seventh and eighth guys. I think that’s part of the reason he didn’t score as much. He’s going to get more of an opportunity to play in offensive roles this year,” Crawford said. “We know we have to move forward. We’re not kidding ourselves with where we are as an organization. We’re still developing, but in order to develop you’ve got to give the younger people the opportunity and that’s what this is about.”

    As far as depth, there are some players who played with the Texas Stars last season and saw a few NHL games last season.

    “Francis Wathier played for us last year and keeps getting better all the time,” said Crawford. “You love guys like that because they never count themselves out. “

    Center Aaron Gagnon led Texas in scoring last season.

    “He took a good step last year and he played so well,” said Crawford. “The one thing we know is he plays well with Jamie Benn. “

    Right wing Ray Sawada also saw a couple of NHL games last season.

    There are a couple of other Texas players who are getting closer to possibly playing in the NHL one day.

    “Colton Sceviour’s got a chance,” Crawford said. “There’s a tough kid, Luke Gazdic, who we think has a chance to play some day.”

    Tomas Vincour, a right wing coming out of juniors, is a player the Stars are high on as well.