Stars' Jere Lehtinen retires

DALLAS -- Stars right wing Jere Lehtinen made it official Wednesday: He's retiring from hockey.

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

"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. "It's a tough decision ... 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."

When healthy, Lehtinen was a valuable piece for the Stars.

"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," Lehtinen said. "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 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.

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, which goes to the NHL's best defensive forward, three times, making him one of only four players to win it three or more times.

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

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

Mark Stepneski covers the Stars for ESPNDallas.com.