The Dallas Stars will be celebrating their 25th year of hockey in Texas next season, and as part of their season long celebration will be retiring Jere Lehtinen’s No. 26.
Lehtinen spent his entire 14-year career with the Stars and was consistently one of the best two-way players in the league. He was a cornerstone piece of their core that led the team to Stanley Cup Final appearances in the late 1990s, including one that they won in 1999.
Along with being a steady point producer that scored 243 goals and added 271 assists in 875 games with the team. But what made him such a valuable player was ability as a defensive player that resulted in him winning three Selke Awards as the NHL’s best defensive forward. He is one of only five players in league history to have won the award at least three times, joining a list that includes Bob Gainey, Patrice Bergeron, Guy Carbonneau, and Pavel Datsyuk.
What makes Lehtinen winning the award three times so impressive is that he did as a winger. There has always been a bias toward centers when it comes to the Selke Trophy (and they do have more defensive responsibility most of the time) no matter how good of a defensive player the winger might be. Just look at how little attention Marian Hossa has received in Selke Voting during his career.
Lehtinen, a fourth-round draft pick in 1992 when the organization was still based in Minnesota, retired following the 2009-10 season.