Lehtonen expects to return soon

While Thrashers training camp continues, Kari Lehtonen continues to recover from off-season back surgery. I caught up with the goaltender at the team’s facility today.

Lehtonen was originally not expected to miss training camp, but now team officials are saying his return is not imminent. Lehtonen told me he expects to be back before the end of camp. That will be the story for Wednesday’s paper.

“I feel a lot better than I did a couple of weeks ago,” Lehtonen said Tuesday. “The first four or five weeks were very, very slow. With my back getting better, I wasn’t able to do much. Now, the last two weeks I’ve been able to, first, live normally, and now I’ve got the OK from the doctor to start working hard. It’s been holding up great and that’s a great thing.”

Lehtonen also said he regrets not having the surgery sooner. However he and the team thought an off-season epidural cleared up any issues that lingered from the injury suffered in October.

Stay tuned to see if he is able to return by the end of camp. The season opener is only weeks away.

18 comments Add your comment

Jeremy H

September 15th, 2009
2:48 pm

I’m pulling for ya Kari… hopefully you can come back and earn your #1 spot straight-up, and lead the team to the post season!


September 15th, 2009
3:06 pm

Excellent! We need the only No. 1 goalie we have ready to go if at all possible. Legace? You have to be kidding me! Might as well bring back Steve Shields.


September 15th, 2009
3:07 pm

Pavelec being another year into his development plus the additions of MacIntyre and Legace will probably help Kari’s back feel a lot better sooner rather than later. At least it better if he wants to hang onto the #1 job.


September 15th, 2009
3:08 pm

I believe Coach Anderson already said Kari was not the #1 starter right now. Lehts is going to have to work his butt off to pass 4 healthy goaltenders to get back to the top.


September 15th, 2009
3:13 pm

J.B.-I agree with you, but if Kari is not our number 1 goaltender, we have no shot of making the post-season. He is, by far, the biggest question mark that needs to be answered this season.

Kane will probably make the team, but his impact on the top two lines is unlikely. Little will maintain or improve. Slava will be as good as last year. Bagosian and Enstrom will improve. Ilya will continue to be the clear leader. Antropov and Kubina will make important contributions.

But will Lehtonen be the number 1 that he has the potential to be? If not, it will be a long brutal year for Thrashers fans. If he is, I see no reason why this team will not make the playoffs.


September 15th, 2009
3:15 pm

You may be on crack. Legace’s body of work is light years ahead of Kari’s. He has won everywhere he has played and is far more durable. You should thank your lucky starts that Thrashers invited him to camp.

World Be Free

September 15th, 2009
3:26 pm

Another season with Kari injured; at least it happened earlier this year! An injured back means he has not been able to work out, which means he will miss the 1st month of the season.

Dawg Foot

September 15th, 2009
3:39 pm

How soon is now? #32 is an accident waiting to happen. Geez we are just coming off the offseason.


September 15th, 2009
4:07 pm

I can’t believe HE didn’t decide to have the sugery sooner either. It’s his back, he knows it best. If something felt odd at the end of the season, then take it seriously the first time you notice it. Number one talent, minor league brain.


September 15th, 2009
5:20 pm

Stendec, where are you? Get off the UGA blog and give us an update on how you are doing?

[...] 15, 2009. AJC Blog [...]

Get The Puck Out

September 15th, 2009
5:42 pm

Lethonen is a liability. Period. His health speaks for itself. Waddell better start talkin it up trying to find a #1 goalie. I hope Lethonen makes it back, no pun intended, but i’d rather have a goalie sharpening his skills NOW so he’ll be ready opening night.


September 15th, 2009
6:29 pm

Many times, on these message boards, I’ve seen this sentiment expressed, “Patrick Stefan was RUSHED PREMATURELY into the lineup and it hurt his development.” Some will agree. Some won’t. But, I’ll say this. And it’s not UNREASONABLE. Ready?

Prospects take time to develop. Wow, startling revelation, wasn’t it? How OLD is Evander Kane? If posters don’t know, the answer is eighteen (18). By a little over a month. How OLD is Ondrej Pavelec? Stop. Don’t answer. It’s irrelevant to the point, which is this: Prospects TAKE TIME to develop. Yeah, I already said that. I had to repeat it, for it to SINK IN.

Do you think … it’s a GOOD IDEA … to RUSH prospects … as the MEANS TO COVER GM/Ownership mistakes in the stewardship of this franchise? Well, apparently, some people say YES.

Are you one of them?? It’s not illegal to hold this viewpoint. You can raise your hand. It’s still America. We’re still FREE to express ourselves. It’s a matter of opinion.

It’s been my opinion … that the Atlanta Thrashers haven’t done a good enough job at developing prospects. But I certainly think they’re getting better at it. Rick Dudley was brought in to help develop prospects. Hopefully, he’ll be enabled enough to say, “You’re RUSHING HIM,” if that turns out to be the case. Perhaps he’ll be outshouted at the “committee meetings.”

Do you know what a camel is? It’s a HORSE designed by a committee. Or so said David McDavid, to the AJC’s Jeff Schultz, back on December 12, 2008. But I digress.

Some guys … can waltz into the NHL the very FALL of their draft year. Kudos to them, I say! But if it becomes clear, or even questionable, that Evander isn’t ready, and that Pavelec ISN’T READY, is it RIGHT to push them? Before you answer, who’s in charge of OVERSIGHT of an NHL franchise? Isn’t it the GM? In concert with ownership? Well, did they PLAN THIS WELL?

I’m only asking a question. Hopefully, everything goes SWIMMINGLY. Evander Kane unquestionably makes the team, earns his roster spot, and competes for the Calder. Perhaps Ondrej Pavelec will have a “break out” camp, and put up a 35-win season. I’d be thrilled to see it, along with my other Thrasher backers. But if those things don’t happen, then what? Who is responsible for OVERSIGHT of this franchise? Ultimately. What ONE VOICE is it?

[...] Thrashers:  Lehtonen expects to return soon.  Good because if Atlanta wants to do well this season they are going to need him to be healthy. [...]

World Be Free

September 15th, 2009
10:10 pm

You know Brendan, it so tough to determine when a kid is ready to make the jump to the NHL. You have to judge whether a kid is both physically and mentally ready to play. The game is so differnt in the NHL than any where else. Kids know when they are called up that they have to perform, they start to put pressure on themselves. Then they get into a sitation where it is almost impossible to succeed.

I brought up Jacques Richard last week. JR came up with the Atlanta Flames and was successful early on, then he faded. He was traded to Buffalo; we thought we had the second coming of Gilbert Perreault. JR flashed some early greatness, but soone faded. He couldn’t handle his surroundings. He finally found the right situation back in Quebec City, scoring 50+ a few times. Quebec City was finally the right situation for Jacques Richard.

I thought it was a mistake to keep Bogo last year, especially after he broke his leg. Boy was I wrong, he came on like a house of fire. But you just don’t know sometimes.

I think Chicago is a great team to develop young players. It’s a big league town, there is financial commitment and the Wolves coaching has always been very good. Is it poor developement or poor drafting?

Bring a kid up, put them in the right situation and give him conservative expectations.

One final note-there’s so much pressure on management to get a high draft choice into the lineup. UFA at 27, you gotta get the most out of players while you still have them.


September 16th, 2009
6:48 am

oh perfect! should kari be r starting goalie? i dont know. because of his past injuries, the worst situation for an injury goalie is to hav and injury before the playoffs and the start of the season. i think he will show improvment this year if he holds up. now, just lehtonen needs to get in the net and we need to sign kovy. (WADDELL U KEEP SAYIN UR GONNA SIGN HIM WELL THEN GET IT DONE!!!!) now drop the puck!


September 16th, 2009
8:52 am

WBF – the age of 27 is a secondary threshold to UFA status, the primary one being seasons played. You bring in a player at 18 into the roster, they are going to hit UFA status before they are 27.


September 16th, 2009
2:10 pm

According to thrashpractice.com, Legace is already showing how valuable he can be as a VOCAL veteran presence. Don’t get me wrong, Hedberg is a quintessential pro and has the respect of every player in the room.

However, Legace is quite animated and vocal on the practice ice and has even gone so far as to impart wisdom on the young Kane, who has been told to stop passing so much in practice. Legace hollered at Kane after a spoiled 2 on 1 drill “you’ve got a good shot so shoot it!!” That my friends is the kind of leadership we need.

Manny may in fact be just the guy we need filling in for, and hence pushing Kari, to come back better and more motivated than ever. Hopefully, with the trio of Moose, Manny and Pavy, Kari will have the time he needs to rehab fully and effectively so he hits the ground running when he does return.

Good luck Kari, we want you to be the greasiest and agile “karrpa” you can be!!