A two-way stud.
If we only had a couple of words to describe Jere Lehtinen, that would suffice. Luckily, however, we have more…
Jere Lehtinen was a very good NHL player for most of his career. He was drafted in 1995 with the 24th pick by the Dallas Stars. He immediately joined the team and spent the entirety of his 14-year career with the Dalla Stars. A dominant two-player, Lehtinen played a crucial role for Dallas in the late 90s and early 2000s.
While his great career doesn’t cut it for the Hall of Fame, he is a worthy inductee into the Hall of Very Good Players – which is where we recognize the great players who fall short of Hall of Fame recognition.
Let’s get into why…
After starting his career in 1995, Lehtinen instantly made his two-way presence felt. In just his second year, as a 23 year old, Lehtinen finished third for the Selke trophy, awarded to the best defensive forward in the league.
The next year, during the 1997-98 season, he won the award. He followed that season up by winning it again in 1998-99.
Then, in 2002-03, he won his final Selke award. Sandwiched in there, Lehtinen was a key piece to the Stars’ Stanley Cup Final win during the 1999-00 season.
Lehtinen scored more than 20 goals in a season seven different times and scored over 30 goals in a season twice. His final stat line of 514 points – 243 goals and 271 assists – does not jump off the page. It does, however, highlight the all-around game that he had.
Further, considering he was known as a defensive stalwart, those offensive numbers more than do the job.
If there’s an argument for him to be in the Hall of Fame, it is due to his dominance on the defensive end. Winning the Selke award three times is no joke – Patrice Bergeron has won the award five times, which is the most in NHL history. His three Selke awards are tied for third-most in NHL history.
He is a player you could plug into any team, at any time. There’s always a spot for players like Lehtinen. Players who don’t need the spotlight and are happy to do the dirty work defensively are always of high value, and that describes Lehtinen perfectly.
It’s no wonder that the Stars had no interest in giving him up during his 14-year career.
As a result, there probably is a real argument that he is deserving of a Hall of Fame look.
Ultimately, though, he’ll have to settle for his place in the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame, and right here, in the Hall of Very Good Players.
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