Stars forward Jere Lehtinen has some decisions to make this offseason (and so do the Stars). He talked about that last week as the Stars met for the final time before heading off their separate ways.
On if he has a timeframe for coming back: “I need time off. I don’t know how long. Whatever I do, it will be the right decision for me. So, it’s a big decision, that’s why I want to make sure, and take as much time as I need. I’m going to avoid any timeline. When I feel right to make a decision, then ok. I don’t want to hurry that, because it’s huge, it’s big.”
Can he handle another season physically: “That’s the biggest question, my body. So, the last few years, it’s been tough. It’s been frustrating, and it’s not getting easier. That’s kind of what it’s coming to – how my body feels. It’s tough. I know I still can play, but that’s not the issue. What’s bigger is ‘How is my body?’”
On the last home game and fans: “It was big. It was great, to feel that from fans. You know, they’ve been supporting all these years, and they’ve been great, and I really appreciate what they did. Who knows what will happen in the future, but if this was it, then that was a good memory. It was a huge night of course for Mike and Turks also. I’ve been here, playing with Mike for so many years, so that was really big for me.”
Frustration of not making playoffs last two seasons: “It’s been frustrating, these years, because of course you want to play at this time. This is the best time for a hockey player, springtime. When you don’t play, that’s the toughest part. Another part of course is being injured so much, so it’s not easy.”
On if he felt good when he was playing healthy: “Yeah. There weren’t too many times I felt that, so that’s why it’s tough.”
If this is it, reflecting back on his career: “It’s tough to think about that yet. Of course, I went through it a little bit the last few days, the last games, because it might be that. Overall, I never thought I’d play to be this old, and for this many years, actually. When I got here in ’95, right before that I played in Finland, and coming here has been huge. I’ve had a lot of injuries, but I’ve been lucky to be able to play for 14 years.”
On if he could play somewhere else, maybe Finland: “Yeah. My hometown team. I could go there. We have talked the last couple of years, but they know what my feeling is.”