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Veteran Presence

by Dallas Stars Staff / Dallas Stars

It’s less than a month before training camp and the Stars’ locker room and gym is beginning to see its fair share of players coming in to work out in the mornings. Some hit the ice while others hit the weights. And of course, some hit both.

A consistent presence most mornings is the facility is Jere Lehtinen. No one knows the gym on this team better than Lehts, who has been a workout fanatic for his entire life, keeping his body in tip-top shape. He’s usually the first to arrive and often the last one to leave.

But turning 35 over the summer, Lehtinen has made some adjustments to his workout routine that he didn’t have to focus on early in his career.

“It’s different what I do now compared to 10 years ago,” Lehtinen said. “When I was 25, it was just ‘work hard’ and that’s it. Now it’s more about stretching and giving yourself more time to recover and you have to really think about what you are doing. There is more focus on specific workouts. You can’t just go run hard or lift weights any way you want. I’ve always enjoyed being in the gym and doing the work. There’s just more focus on specifics now to keep my body in top shape.”

Lehtinen missed 33 games last season due to injury, having surgery to repair a sports hernia in November.

“Injuries are a lot different too at this age,” he said. “You have to focus on rehab a little more and that also can take some more time than 10 years ago. This past season was tough when I had the surgery, but I had a lot of time to rehab and I didn’t have to rush it and that was good. I feel pretty good right now and I’m just preparing for the season.”

Everyone on the team enjoyed the playoff success that Dallas had last spring, and Lehtinen was no different. But he also knows what it is like to win the Stanley Cup and he wants to win it again. Lehtinen sees the confidence in his teammates as training camp approaches.

“(The playoffs) were a big step for us,” he said. “For so many years we lost in the first round and we were able to get over that hump. We grew a lot as a team and I think a lot of individual players grew also. We realize that we have the ability to go far in the playoffs and we want to do it again. It was a little short of where we really wanted to be but we all realize that it is right there. It was a good feeling that we could have that success but it was also disappointing because we want to go all the way. But it was a good run and it gives is a lot of confidence heading into this season.”

As for personal goals, don’t expect Lehtinen to focus on 25 goals or 50 points or anything like that. For him, the focus has always been on the wins and losses.

“I don’t have a lot of specific personal goals; I focus more on the team goals,” he said. “That’s the main thing – the team. If the team wins, I really don’t care how I play or if I score the goals, especially in the playoffs. Winning the Stanley Cup is the goal and we believe we can do it. There is a lot of work to do to get there but we believe the chance to win it is right there.

I guess I do have one personal goal though. I just want to play well every night and help the team. Last season I was injured, so health is a big goal for me. I want to play every game and stay away from the injuries.”

Lehtinen and his family returned to Dallas about a week ago since school was starting for the kids. The family’s summer was simple – spending time in Lehtinen’s native Finland.

 “(Summer) was good,” he said. “It was normal stuff – saw a lot of family and friends. I had a couple of friends get married and we went to those weddings. It was fun.”

Lehtinen, wife Jaana and their three children didn’t do much traveling and simply stayed close to home in Finland.

“We spent a lot of time with the kids and did some fun stuff but we didn’t really go on any trips,” he said. “I went by myself to a few festivals and concerts. I do that every year and really enjoy it.”

Lehtinen’s twin daughters Anna and Sofia are turning eight years old in September and his son Joel is turning five in November.

“It’s an exciting time for the kids and the entire family. They are getting bigger every day, it seems. My boy is a year away from kindergarten and he learned how to fish this summer. We took all of the kids fishing. They were pretty excited. We fished from the shore instead of going out on the water and it was great. We’re thinking next season we’ll probably take them out in a boat to go fishing. But it was a lot of fun for them.”
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