Former Islander Robin Lehner returns to LI for the first time as a visitor

It’s odd to think that Robin Lehner hasn’t played a game on the Island since the 2018-19 season. But thanks to the past two seasons changed because of COVID-19, if Lehner starts scoring for the Golden Knights against the Islanders on Saturday, it will be his first return to the ice on Long Island since he played for the home team.

Although Lehner was only an Islander for one season, he left a huge impact on the organization. Not only did Lehner go 25-13-5 as a kick-start to help the Islanders achieve post-season during Barry Trotz’s first year in charge, but his mental health advocacy, continues until Today, has helped fuel a conversation that the NHL is still slow to have.

“Tomorrow I’m going back to the people who accepted me for who I am and who supported me no matter what,” Lehner, who is bipolar, tweeted on Saturday. “It will be amazing to see you again. Long Island, I’m forever grateful for [your] location in my itinerary. Usually when I go through these things, I will think of you.”

Lehner signed with the Islanders after his personal life was very low. In March 2018, he had to leave a game after suffering a panic attack. Lehner then went to a drug rehab facility to deal with his addiction to alcohol and sleeping pills, which began after he suffered a concussion while playing for the Ottawa Senators.

Robin Lehner
Robin Lehner

He has been very sober since 2018 and has spoken openly about his struggles. After his season with the Islanders, Lehner won the Masterton Trophy for perseverance.

“I’m really proud of him, what he’s done with his life,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said Saturday. “And he’s going to tell you this, he’s dealing with a lot of problems. So much, I would say the demons of his past. All of that, not easy. And what he can do with his life is first of all his family.

“And dealing with everything from depression to all those issues, given the career he’s been having, we’ll say again the word rails can be a bit of a spiral. But it starts with, if one is not in good shape, it will be difficult to have success in the game. “

Trotz and Islanders met Lehner earlier this year when they played in Vegas, beating the Golden Knights, 2-0. Whenever he sees something that prompts him to do so, Trotz sends Lehner a message saying “Hello” or wishes him well.

“All credit goes to Robin because it was so tough,” Trotz said. “It is difficult to do a lot of the things that he did. And he was able to stay with it. You look at it, he’s become one of the top scorers in the league. He’s become one of the leaders in our room, and I think he’s one of the leaders in Vegas right now. That says a lot about Robin and the power he has when it comes to mental health issues. ”

While hockey still has a long way to go to tackle mental health – a fact often easy to see when looking at Lehner’s own social media feeds – he has accomplished a lot. thing in enhancing the sport’s views on those issues.

“No matter what the social issue is, there is always someone who has to step out and be first,” says Trotz. “And they often get a little bit of publicity and criticism, you see that all the time. That’s where courage comes in. And Robin stepped up and said, ‘I really have problems, I’ll talk about these problems.’

“And I think that’s the strength he has and it will bring. It allows others to feel comfortable talking about certain things in the field of mental health. “

Kyle Palmieri didn’t skate on Saturday. After sustaining a lower body injury on Thursday against the Bruins, his condition for Sunday’s game is unknown.

With COVID-19 sweeps through NHL Anders Lee said players wanting to attend the Olympics were in doubt, but hinted at the possibility of a five-week quarantine with a positive test result in Beijing being a major obstacle.

“They want to represent their country and have that opportunity, but they also want it to happen in a meaningful environment, one that’s good for the athletes,” Lee said.

Trotz, Team Canada’s assistant coach, said if the tournament goes on, he plans to go. Former Islander Robin Lehner returns to LI for the first time as a visitor

Emma Bowman

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