-- Is this the proverbial writing on the wall? Or is it more motivational material?
head coach Marc Crawford
has a pretty good idea how Marty Turco
is reading it.
The Stars made a significant acquisition Tuesday, picking up goaltender Kari Lehtonen
in a trade with the Atlanta Thrashers
Lehtonen, 26, hasn't played a game in the NHL this season after two back surgeries in the off-season. But he's a former first-round pick (No. 2) and was once considered a cornerstone of the Thrashers franchise.
The 34-year-old Turco, meanwhile, will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and is making $5.4 million in the final year of his current contract in Dallas.
So does this mean the end of the line for Turco in "Big D"?
"It is part in parcel of what you deal with," Crawford said Thursday morning at the Saddledome, where his Stars were preparing for an evening game against the Flames. "And for Marty, his history has been when he's been pushed, whether it was Mike Smith
or, this year, Alex Auld
, that's when he's played his best hockey.
"You get all sorts of pressure. The pressure from within, the pressure you put on yourself, that's the most important. Marty has a good handle on that," Crawford said. "He's a very talented netminder, and he's played very well here in the last little bit.
"We're hopeful that he comes out and plays a real strong game. The only way you can look at things is day by day, and put your best foot forward, and that's what he's doing."
The NHL's trade deadline is March 3, but a roster freeze will be imposed on all clubs, starting on Friday at 3 p.m. ET, for the Olympic hiatus.
Turco, who holds an array of career franchise goaltending records in Dallas, is staying positive under the circumstances.
"I don't have any qualms or problems ... you just focus on your job, and that's all you can do," Turco told the Dallas Morning News. "A lot of people know how I feel and where my heart is, and if I keep playing like I'm playing now, then I'll be OK and look back at everything and have a great big smile on my face."
Lehtonen underwent surgery in July for a herniated disc. Then, in October, he went under the knife again to repair vertebrae that were causing a pinched nerve in his back.
Lehtonen, who has a career 94-83-17 record in Atlanta, is coming off a five-game rehab stint with the AHL's Chicago Wolves, with a 1-2-2 record and 2.67 goals-against average.
"I don't have any qualms or problems ... you just focus on your job, and that's all you can do. A lot of people know how I feel and where my heart is, and if I keep playing like I'm playing now, then I'll be OK and look back at everything and have a great big smile on my face."
-- Marty Turco
He's not expected to see any action for the Stars until after the club returns from its Olympic break on March 1.
Entering Thursday's game, meanwhile, Turco had allowed just six goals in his previous four outings, with a .957 save percentage in that span.
"I told (Turco) that I believe it's still his net right now," Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk
told the Morning News. "We had four unrestricted free-agent goalies heading into the summer, and we needed to get some kind of plan for our future, so this is just one part of the process.
"Marty has played very well these past four games, and I imagine he will continue to play," added Nieuwendyk. "He's a professional, and I know that's how he will respond."