I talked to Jere Lehtinen today and then talked to Joe Nieuwendyk, and the gist of the conversations is that there is no timetable for Lehtinen to make a decision on whether he wants to play or not.
The Stars are still trying to sort through the Jonathan Cheechoo tryout and the possible push from AHL players such as Tomas Vincour, Colton Sceviour or Sean Backman, so there's no need for Lehtinen to be in training camp. If any of these options work out, the door might close on the opportunity for Lehtinen to come back with the Stars. But, as of right now, Nieuwendyk said there's no reason to close that door.
``Jere and I have talked a lot and I think we both understand each other,'' Nieuwendyk said. ``There's no reason for us to make a decision right now and there's no reason for him to make a decision right now. This is something that can be open-ended.''
Lehtinen's contract expired after last season and he still has not decided if he wants to resume his career. At 37 and after being limited by injuries in each of the last three seasons, he said he has seriously considered retirement. But, he's not ready yet to close the door completely, and if Nieuwendyk is open to making a decision later in the season, then that's fine with Lehtinen.
``I want to be sure, and I'm not sure now, so I will wait and see,'' he said. ``There still is time.''
Lehtinen is working out, but has skated just a few times. Stars insiders believe he would not have trouble returning to the ice because of his fitness level, and also believe that missing the first few months of the season wouldn't be the worst thing for Lehtinen. That said, if another solution appears, then that could affect how they feel about offering a contract later in the year.
Still, with injuries and possible trades, who knows what the lineup might look like in December, so why not keep your options open?
Lehtinen is in North Texas with his family, and his three kids are in school. He's doing a lot of parenting and helping out with the kids' sports, like soccer, swimming and hockey.
``It's fun,'' he said. ``These are things I don't usually get to do, you know, just being a dad. I like that.''
The Stars would have to make a decision by the trade deadline Feb. 28 to put Lehtinen on the roster.