LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights goalkeeper Robin Lehner said Tuesday he is encouraged about driving change in hockey after talks with the NHL and NHL Players’ Association about concerns he expressed on social media this weekend.
The NHL contacted Lehner for an interview after he made several allegations on Twitter Saturday night, including that “many teams” are giving players drugs without a doctor’s approval. He also accused the Buffalo Sabers of screwing up an ankle surgery he had while playing for the team and brought up Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault in a series of tweets about the league’s standings.
Lehner, a longtime mental health advocate who has been open about his bipolar disorder and his own struggles off the ice, hopes to continue the dialogue in a more personal way from now on.
,,This weekend was a cry for help from this league, the league I love, which has given me so much”, said Lehner. “I’m just trying to protect the younger players, and the only way to change my mind is to do it in a non-public way.” I feel very encouraged about the conversations we could have and we will move forward.”
Lehner said former teammate Jack Eichel’s stalemate with the Sabers over the best treatment for an injury was not the only reason behind his social media comments.
“It was definitely part of it, but it doesn’t take away from what I’ve been fighting for a long time, which is mental health and problems I’ve been through, which I’ve seen personal friends suffer from and friends outside the competition,” Lehner said. “We’re all worried about his neck and all, but what about his mental health? It’s part of life, my whole journey.”
Vigneault on Monday denied allegations that he had ever given players drugs without a doctor’s permission. He has not coached Lehner, a 30-year-old Swede now in his 12th NHL season, at any level.
Asked about Vigneault, Lehner said he understands there will be backlash and it’s worth trying to make change.
“I’m fine with that because this is a huge step in the right direction,” said Lehner, adding that he didn’t tweet for attention. “If it can help 1%, I’m very happy about that.”