I love Robin Lehner. Seriously, it’s not even close, he is by far my favorite player to ever spend just one year with the New York Islanders. Before the 2018-2019 season, his first and lone season on the Island, Lehner came forward with his struggles with mental health and addiction.
If you haven’t read the story, it’s truly one of the best things The Athletic has ever put out and well worth your time. Lehner was open, he started a conversation that almost no one is comfortable having and he was loved for it.
When people idolize athletes, oftentimes it’s because they have this persona of being super-human. Not Lehner, I and many others idolize him for quite the opposite reason actually, it’s because he’s not afraid to show that he is human.
Islanders fans already loved him for what he did off the ice, but on the ice, he was phenomenal too. He went 25-13-5 with a .930 save percentage and a 2.13 goals against average. Both he and Thomas Greiss won the Jennings Trophy that year and he finished third in Vezina voting.
He took home one more piece of hardware that season, the Masterton Trophy. In what was one of the best speeches you’ll ever see at an awards show, Lehner stole the day at the NHL Awards in 2019:
“I’m not ashamed to say I’m mentally ill, but that doesn’t mean I’m mentally weak”. That one still really hits home. I can’t help but get emotional when I listen to the speech and what he says.
Since leaving the Islanders, Lehner has been very open about his love for the Island. He even has Long Island tattooed on him to show his appreciation. Today, his words on the Spittin’ Chicklets Podcast took that relationship to another level. Lehner said, “Long Island fans really saved my life.”
He’s the best. Truly, the relationship between Lehner and Islanders fans will always be super special and I’m happy he stopped in here for that 2018-2019 season. He has thousands of Islanders fans who will still have his back no matter what, and I hope he never forgets his impact on all of us.