19 June 2008

(AJC) Meeting Kari Lehtonen

So listen. This new guy at AJC? Mike Knobler? I can tell already I'm going to love him. Mike, are you reading? Drop a line, bro. Thank you for, thusfar in your short tenure as the guy on the Thrashers' beat, catering to my wishes, and writing about our goalies! Look! More about Kari at the hockey camp!

Meeting Kari Lehtonen

By Mike Knobler | Wednesday, June 18, 2008, 08:13 PM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, I’ve been covering college athletes for most of my 23 years as a full-time sportswriter, and Kari Lehtonen, 24, is only a year older than a lot of college seniors. But watching Lehtonen work with 7- to 16-year-old goalies at the Thrashers Hockey Camp on Wednesday reminded me of watching Calvin Johnson and others work with kids the week of the 2007 NFL draft. Like those football players, Lehtonen started out a little shy but really got into it.

I was thinking a guy making $2.2 million a year might go through the motions or look bored during two hours on the ice with a bunch of kids. He didn’t. Whether he was bending down to talk to a player whose helmet barely reached Lehtonen’s belly button or discussing technique with high schoolers, Lehtonen kept a smile on his face and stayed fully engaged. Later, he told me it reminded him of the camps he used to go to not that long ago, and he remembered how he felt when in the presence of the top Finnish players back then.

Two pointers, for you goalies out there, overheard from Kari:

  • Keep your stick on the ice.
  • If you’ve dropped to the ice on one side of the net and you need to get to the other, pick up your outside leg first, then drive off it. Don’t get passive and slide, either. Push, and then come to a stop. Oh, and when you drive off your outside leg, twist your body, because your legs will follow.

By the way, if you were expecting a coaching search update here, my apologies. There was no news out at the Thrashers practice facility. Lehtonen had no inside info to share, and nor did camp director Darren Eliot. (Eliot did, though, say he might at some stage be interested in an NHL front office job in a role such as player development. He passed on an opportunity years ago to become an assistant coach with the Penguins … not on the current, Stanley Cup finalist staff.)

Rock on, Mike. But listen, can you throw some photos in with your articles too? Because the copy's brilliant, but a picture does speak a thousand words. kthx! And welcome to the family!


Big Shooter said...

Yeah, Mike seems to be doing a pretty good job.

Already giving Kari an article doesn't hurt either!!

Maali said...

Technically, it's article #2! :D See my next entry down.