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Ex-Islander Robin Lehner returns to LI for first time as visitor

It’s odd to suppose that Robin Lehner hasn’t performed a sport on the Island because the 2018-19 season. But thanks to the previous two seasons being altered due to COVID-19, if Lehner will get the beginning in web for the Golden Knights in opposition to the Islanders on Saturday, it is going to be his first time again on the ice in Long Island since he performed for the house crew.

Though Lehner was solely an Islander for one season, he left an outsize influence on the group. Not solely did Lehner go 25-13-5 as a starter to assist the Islanders attain the postseason in Barry Trotz’s first 12 months in cost, however his psychological well being advocacy, which continues right now, helped advance a dialog the NHL remains to be gradual to have.

“Tomorrow I’ll go back to the people that accepted me for who I am and the ones that supported me no matter what,” Lehner, who’s bipolar, tweeted on Saturday. “Gonna be amazing seeing you guys again. Long Island, I’m forever grateful for [your] place in my journey. Often when I go through these things, I think of you.”

Lehner signed with the Islanders after hitting a low in his private life. In March 2018, he had to depart a sport after struggling a panic assault. Lehner then went to a drug rehab facility to cope with an alcohol and sleeping capsule dependancy that began after he suffered a concussion whereas enjoying for the Ottawa Senators.

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Robin LehnerRobin LehnerAP

He has been sober since 2018 and has talked brazenly about his struggles. Following his season with the Islanders, Lehner gained the Masterton Trophy for perseverance.

“I’m just really proud of him, what he’s done with his life,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz stated Saturday. “And he’ll let you know this, he’s handled a variety of points. Numerous, I’ll say demons in his previous. All these issues, it’s not simple. And what he’s been ready to do together with his life first, his household.

“And dealing with everything from depression to all those type of issues, having the career that he’s having, getting we would say back on the rails from maybe a little bit of a spiral. But it started with, if a person’s not in a good place, it’s going to be hard to have success in the game.”

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Trotz and the Islanders noticed Lehner earlier this 12 months once they performed in Vegas, beating the Golden Knights, 2-0. Whenever he sees one thing that reminds him to accomplish that, Trotz will ship Lehner a textual content saying “Hi” or wishing him effectively.

“All the credit goes to Robin because it was hard,” Trotz stated. “It’s hard to do a lot of stuff he did. And he’s been able to stay with it. You look at it, he’s become one of the top goaltenders in the league. He became one of our leaders in our room, and I think he’s one of the leaders on Vegas right now. That says a lot about Robin and the strength that he has in terms of talking about mental health issues.”

Though hockey nonetheless has a good distance to go as far as addressing psychological well being — a actuality typically noticeable by taking a look at Lehner’s personal social-media feed — he’s accomplished loads as far as advancing the game’s view of these points.

“Whatever the social issue is, there’s always one person that has to step out and be the first,” Trotz stated. “And they normally get beat up slightly bit publicly and criticized, you see it all of the time. That’s the place the braveness is available in. And Robin stepped up and stated, ‘I do have issues, I’m gonna speak about these points.’

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“And I think that’s the strength that he has and it carries over. It’s allowed other people to feel comfortable talking about certain things in the mental health area.”

Kyle Palmieri didn’t skate on Saturday. After struggling a lower-body damage on Thursday in opposition to the Bruins, his standing for Sunday’s sport is unknown.

With COVID-19 sweeping via the NHL and the league’s participation within the Olympics coming into query, Anders Lee stated gamers need to go, however alluded to a possible five-week quarantine with a constructive take a look at in Beijing as a significant stumbling block.

“They want to represent their country and have that opportunity, but they also want it to be in an environment that makes sense, one that’s good for the athletes,” Lee stated.

Trotz, an assistant coach for Team Canada, stated if the league goes, he plans to go.

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