New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz wouldn’t comment on the bombshell revelations former Islanders goalie Robin Lehner made over the weekend. But the Stanley Cup-winning coach knows that it’s a situation that Lehner is passionate about for him to be speaking out.
On Saturday, Lehner tweeted out that NHL teams gave players prescription drugs Ambien and benzodiazepines without prescriptions, and he specifically mentioned the Philadelphia Flyers. Lehner told The Athletic’s Arthur Staple that the Islanders were not one of the teams that he was referring to in his tweets.
“Robin is a passionate person who has strength,” Trotz said when asked about the situation. “He’s gone through a lot himself. I think with going through all of that he has gotten the strength now to feel that he can stand up and correct some things that he feels are wrong.”
Lehner has been an outspoken advocate for mental health since he went public about his own journey with mental health and addiction several years ago. He first opened up about it in a personal essay for The Athletic prior to his first season with the New York Islanders in 2018.
Robin Lehner instantaneously became a fan favorite and has retained a continuing love affair with the organization and Long Island since he left after one season with the Islanders.
“I know here he went from a really dark place to a really good place and I have a lot of respect for that,” Trotz said. “I know how hard that is for individuals to do that. I’ve had it in my own family. I’ve seen it up close with a number of different players. Seeing what he went through and where he got to with us, I’m really proud of him.
“That’s given him strength and that’s something you have to admirer. That he’s got the strength to do that. … He’s passionate about his beliefs.”
Saturday’s comments from Lehner were just the latest in a series that touched on several issues going in the NHL. Last week Lehner ripped the Buffalo Sabres during an appearance on the Spittin’ Chicklets podcast for their handling of Jack Eichel and on Friday he targeted the NHLPA on Twitter for their lack of support for Eichel.
The weekend comments about teams misusing prescription drugs were enough for Lehner to get meetings with the NHLPA on Sunday and a meeting with NHL officials on Tuesday.
Lehner told reporters afterwards on Tuesday that he had a great talk with the NHL and NHLPA and that he was excited over potential changes that could come from them. An emotional Robin Lehner said that he would continue his efforts to facilitate needed changes in the NHL behind closed doors.
“I’m always going to advocate for mental health. And advocate for this league,” Lehner said. “But moving forward, I’m looking forward to help in a more private matter. This weekend was a cry for help from this league. This league that I love has given me so much. I’m just trying to protect the younger players, and the only way to affect change, in my mind, is to do it in a non-public fashion.”
— Steve Carp (@stevecarp56) October 5, 2021