Lehtonen getting closer to return

Goaltender Kari Lehtonen is getting close to a return, according to Thrashers coach John Anderson.

Lehtonen has returned to the ice after two back surgeries. He has been out all season but his practice schedule has picked up in the last week.

“He’s been doing a lot, actually,” Anderson said Monday. “We took him on the [recent] road [trip] and practiced him pretty hard. He’s getting closer. It’s a matter of conditioning.  I hate to give a time frame, but 2-3 weeks I don’t think is out of the realm.”

Lehtonen worked with assistant coach Steve Weeks following Monday’s practice.

32 comments Add your comment

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution [...]


January 4th, 2010
1:23 pm

Good the hear. Just curious did JA mention anything about the decision to play Moose back-to-back instead of Pavs for the second game?

[...] Anderson told the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore that Lehtonen is getting very close to returning. He was on the last segment of the road trip and [...]


January 4th, 2010
1:41 pm

Ota hyvin Karppa!! Viitsi!!

Hockey Biltong

January 4th, 2010
1:48 pm

We need him.. hope he is fully recovered….

[...] source [...]


January 4th, 2010
1:59 pm

Sorry, stendec, but I hope Kari comes back and proves you wrong. I’m sure you won’t mind if can make a difference for us. I think he has natural talent, but agree that he needs self-discipline.


January 4th, 2010
2:00 pm

It’s kind of funny how fickle fans can be sometimes, and I include myself in that lot because I was pretty much right there with everybody else. When Lehtonen was on fire down the stretch, everyone was thinking trade Pavelec. Then Kari needed some surgery and everyone went crazy about how injury prone he has been historically. Pavelec starts the season on fire and it becomes trade Lehtonen for what you can get for him. Now Pavelec struggles a little and everyone is wishing Kari a quick return. I guess it’s just kind of interesting to see the cycles the goalie situation has gone through over the last year or so.

Seriously though, I don’t really know what to expect from Lehtonen, but for his sake and his quality of life, I hope his back problems and other ortho problems have been sufficiently resolved for his life after hockey.


January 4th, 2010
2:07 pm

This kid is the NHL version of Mike Hampton or Chris “Crystal Chandelier” Chandler. If he gets hit by a stiff breeze he is going to get an injury. Sorry, can’t see the team being able to count on him at all.


January 4th, 2010
2:15 pm

Matt is right, injury prone is injury prone. I welcome him back and hope he stays healthy, but he’s proven he’s not a guy we can rely on.

Chris Vivlamore

January 4th, 2010
2:21 pm

TableHockey: He did. I gave a quote to Rawhide for the blog he will post soon. Basically he said, Hedberg was playing well. It wasn’t that Pavelec was playing poorly.

Sage of Bluesland

January 4th, 2010
2:40 pm

Anyone who is relying on our ‘glass-groined wunderkind’ for anything must be ignorant to history and reality.

We’ve been waiting–and waiting–and waiting for this kid ever since Waddell blustered about getting the guy he wanted all along when he was drafted in 2002. Think about that: ‘waiting’ on a soft Euroteen goalie to save the franchise.

Wow. No wonder we’re in the position we’re in year after year–just look at the DECISIONS made…from day one, too…

It’s about eight years past for that blustering little fraud of a GM to be fired–but, hey-ho, it’s TOO LATE NOW!

Enjoy every bit of it–after all, you BOUGHT it…


January 4th, 2010
2:41 pm

Thanks Chris


January 4th, 2010
2:50 pm

Good! Hope he’s up and running…..er….skating. His young talent is amazing, his injuries are the only thing that might stop his great future. Let’s pray that he won’t injure himself when he returns.


January 4th, 2010
3:22 pm

Pavelec isn’t playing poorly!! Ha, horse pucky! That’s BS if I’ve ever smelled it.

What isn’t poor about a GAA of 5.6 and a SV% of .860 over his last 8 games??

Actually, he’s right, that isn’t poor….it’s downright abysmal!!


January 4th, 2010
3:33 pm

Good to hear he is coming back soon. This is a new Kari – a Kari not struggling with a life long back problem (if I understand the reason for his second surgery correctly). I’m excited to see this young goaltender play again for the team, this time pain free.

Chris – Is there any word on when he will be going to condition with the Wolves? I’m assuming he will play a few games up there, and I would love to go up there to see him, as well as Oystrick, Crabb, and Kulda.


January 4th, 2010
4:17 pm

Good news on Kari, he is coming along on schedule and will be back pain free for the first time since who knows when. He should be given a look prior to any moves made…Pavelic is really hit a wall. What ever has happened in the past is in the past. Kari can dominate a game, now that he has no pain it will be interesting to see what happens…

Either way to have Moose play as much as he has is ungood


January 4th, 2010
4:19 pm

Smoothie, did you mean take it easy Karppa? And vitsi?

Ota hyvin Karppa!! Viitsi!!


January 4th, 2010
4:57 pm

Actually sisu, I was trying to translate “get healthy” but I kept getting different words and phrases. I guess there is no real straight translation for “get healthy please”?? “Viitsi” = “Come one”, correct?

Feel free to correct me!


January 4th, 2010
5:13 pm

Nobody denies Kari is a BIG OLE QUESTION MARK……but when healthy, he is better than Opie. I can go on record as to say I have never said that I wanted trade Kari, our expert bloggers who know goalies, know a HEALTHY Kari is better than what we have. Time will tell.


January 4th, 2010
5:27 pm

Well, for all of the Sage’s vitriol, he is correct about something. Kari Lehtonen is a “lottery draft pick” of this franchise.

So? So what?

So, ask youselves this question. “What is the purpose of the lottery draft?” I forgive the hockey ignorant who don’t have an answer, and just watch because they want their home team to win.

Isn’t the purpose of the lottery draft, “to land a cornerstone/foundation type player for your franchise for the coming years.” See, in my book, that’s the answer.

While you’re still pondering that one … what if the 2010-11 Thrashers take to the ice opening night, in October 2011, without Kovalchuk and without Lehtonen? And I don’t mean because they’re on I.R. I mean, that they play ELSEWHERE. Still with me? That would make Stefan, Heatley, Kovalchuk, Lehtonen, Coburn (though not a lottery draft selection), and Bourret (another non-lottery draft selection but taken in the mid-1st round) as high-end 1st round picks … who somehow escaped the franchise’s clutches. How did that happen, hypothetically?

In short, what good … what’s the PURPOSE … of drafting? I’ve heard people say, “Brendan, might as well trade that 1st rounder for players. At least they’re known commodities.” Yeah, but that’s a whole other can of worms. I’m talking about accountability for DECISION-MAKING.

Anyone who reads these blogs knows how I protested the selection of Lehtonen in 2002, as routed in the philosophy of “time conservation.” As in, I didn’t think THENNN, as I still do now, that the organization had TIME to develop him, as stay on a natural progression towards the Conference Finals (Deep playoff run). In brief, I thought the Thrashers should pluck a goalie from free agency, rather than invest YEARS of development time in a high-pedigree prospect. If the ownership told Don, “We won’t pay it. We won’t give you $6-$8 million to go get Hasek, Khabibulin, Belfour, Nababokov, Irbe, or Curtis Joseph,” then … I suppose … Don Waddell had no OTHER option than to draft the “top prospect goaltender” of the 2002 draft. And that was Kari Lehtonen, folks. Bygones.

But the point still remains. What good are draft picks in the hands of this organization IF they are NOT properly developed (Kovalchuk is a minus WHAT?? for his career), or are lost to an RFA offersheet (not yet, they’re eyeballing Bogosian), Traded Away (Bourret, Coburn, Heatley), or WASTED in terms of performance results (Stefan, Lehtonen)? Yes, we all know that drafting is an “inexact science,” otherwise everyone would be guaranteed to profit from it. But still, there’s a body of work to examine here. And it hasn’t been from multiple GM’s and scouts.

Ahem. That said, I can do nothing but wish for Kari Lehtonen to come back STRONG from his injury and play well. If for no other reason, that’d make his value at the trade deadline that much higher. Though, I still say that Lehtonen has value as a “backup” goaltender. The time has come to look at what he CAN STILL DO for the franchise, instead of what we expect from where we drafted him. Patrick Stefan was a fairly decent 3rd/4th line center. That’s a BUST of a 1st overall selection, but the team still got some “use” out of him. Let’s see what “use” we can still get out of Kari. And in case you’re curious, Kari is still an RFA this summer. So, if there were some RFA offersheet, Atlanta would get compensatory draft picks for his loss. Though, I personally think Atlanta would do better to TRADE him than just to accept a 3rd round pick, or even a 1st and 3rd round pick, as might be the compensation of the RFA offersheet, depending on the salary offered to Lehtonen by the poaching team. I’ve forgotten where the salary table is for that. Someone must have it handy.


January 4th, 2010
6:09 pm

Actually sisu, I was trying to translate “get healthy” but I kept getting different words and phrases. I guess there is no real straight translation for “get healthy please”?? “Viitsi” = “Come one”, correct?

Good try, but this would be better “parane pian” which is get healthy soon. Viitsi, not sure about that but vitsi is Joke.

Anyway, Brendan, you so right about all the building blocks, one has to wonder if the original #1 pick could have been traded for something?

B. Thenet

January 4th, 2010
9:44 pm

He will be injured again within 3 weeks.


January 4th, 2010
10:07 pm

Thanks sisu! Guess I better fix my blog title so it doesn’t read: “take it easy you weasel joke!”. So much for google’s translations! It insisted that “Come on” was “viitsi” and since it was similar to “vamos”, I guess I bought it! Ha! What a stupid I am!

[...] -Thrashers goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who has not played at all this season, could return to the lineup in two to three weeks. [...]


January 5th, 2010
8:36 am

It has to be a real downer to the kid to be injured all the time. I hope for his sake that he does get healthy. If he does, I suspect that he’ll look for a fresh start somewhere else and will exercise his UFA status this summer. Too bad, when he’s on, he can be dominant. Looks like Favelec has lost confidence. Why not send him to the Wolves to get it back. We can use McIntyre as Hedberg’s back-up until Kari or Pavs are NHL ready.


January 5th, 2010
8:46 am

Why am I not excited about this?
If we keep giving up 40-50 SOG, none of our guys will be healthy for long.
I don’t see how any of the Thrasher goalies get any rest. They must spend all night seeing shots in their sleep.
Nut Up guys and play some defense.
You may be surprised what it does for your winning percentage.

Get The Puck Out

January 5th, 2010
9:50 am

Maybe Kari’s got his back problems behind him. I just hope his groin is in tip top shape when he does come back, cause he gonna have pucks comin from all directions. Enough of this Kovy contract. Either your gonna stay or your gonna go. End this so the team can move foward, one way or the other.

Get The Puck Out

January 5th, 2010
9:57 am

Looks like espn is sticking with Kovy to Chicago. I just hope it ends soon. Thrashers could possibly be 13th after Pens game if they lose and a few others win. Ughhh.

Old Time Hockey

January 5th, 2010
11:16 am

I’ve said this many times before…he’s lazy and that’s the bottom line. He has had a history of back and groin injuries because of POOR CONDITIONING! That equates to unreliable. I wouldn’t buy a car that needed servicing as often as he does and cars are a LOT cheaper than what he costs.

I have been a big supporter of this team since day one. I’ve always ignored the comments about the team leaving Atlanta. Bottom line is the ownership group. If they can’t sign Kovy to a max contract, that tells me all I need to know. Watch the television ratings of golf without Tiger. That’s what would happen to the Thrashers without Kovalchuk. Fans going to flock to see Hainsey or White? If they don’t sign him it is because:
1-He doesn’t want to sign. Result:We’re screwed
2-They can’t afford him. Result:We’re screwed
3-They won’t spend what it takes. Result:We’re screwed
We need a moneybags owner who is willing to invest in the team for the long haul. If they don’t sign the most exciting player I have ever seen (and there have been many my friends) my allegiance to this team ends.
PS Trade the lazy goalie!


January 5th, 2010
12:15 pm

There’s no question Kari is the best goalie (ability-wise) we have. It’s just that if he gets a splinter from his stick, he’ll go back on the injured list for 2 months.


January 5th, 2010
12:21 pm

Old Time Hockey… the ratings already suck, the building has been empty for the past 7 years… why would signing Kovalchuk make any difference in the hearts of Atlanta?

Any fan that gives up on the team because of one player is freakin’ lame.

10 years at $10 million is a bad idea for a team that doesn’t spend to the cap anyway… I hope you enjoy all the scrubs that this team gets rounded out with for the sake of keeping one Marquee player and staying $8 million under the cap.

Give me Patrick Sharp, Cam Barker, Jack Skille and a 1st Round pick and Chicago can have Kovy.