As a reminder, the Bill Masterton Memorial goes to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Lehner (25-13-5, 2.13 GAA, .930 SV%, 6 SO) and teammate Thomas Greiss won the 2018-19 William M. Jennings Trophy as the goaltenders on the team allowing the fewest regular-season goals, helping the Islanders post their highest regular-season points total (103) since 1983-84. His best NHL season on the ice came on the heels of revealing addiction and mental health issues in a self-penned article for The Athletic during training camp. I am not sharing this story to make people think differently of Robin Lehner as a professional goalie. I want to help make a difference and help others the way I have been helped, Lehner wrote. I want people to know that there is hope in desperation, there is healing in facing an ugly past and there is no shame in involving others in your battle.
Today as the Islanders resumed practice, Lehner talked about how his journey wouldnt be possible without the support around him that extends from family and current teammates to management of the Islanders and his previous teams:
Columbus Blue Jackets Captain Nick Foligno Named Masterton Trophy Finalist | 1st Ohio Battery
Its a huge honor, obviously, Lehner said. It wouldnt be possible without all of the pieces around me, starting from my family and friends, going throughout this whole team, the relationships me and [Thomas Greiss] have had all year, pushing each other, supporting each other. Everyone from Lou down on up the whole organization has been great.
Lehner also said hes received tremendous support from his two previous teams, the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators.
Hes not just saying the right thing about teammates, either. We got a window into that from his thoughts on the injury to Johnny Boychuk, who the Islanders announced will be out for 3-4 weeks:
Lehner on 55: “Johnnys a very close friend to me, hes been very key for me this year both on and off the ice. When hes out there, he does all the little things that you guys dont really report on. Me as a goalie, I see a lot of it.” #Isles
Lehner is a pending unrestricted free agent this summer, so theres no telling what lies ahead professionally. But news of this finalist honor comes at a nice time — a pause in the playoffs where he has continued his outstanding performance from the regular season.
The actual Masterton award recipient will be announced June 19 in Vegas, after the playoffs are over and the story on this season will be closed. The stories of the other two finalists — Nick Foligno and Joe Thornton, who are also in the middle of the playoffs — are also worth reading if you havent already.
We may be biased here, but there are good reasons Lehners story touches many of us most of all. As Dan wrote back in September:
Im glad hes feeling happier and healthier than he has in years. Thank you for sharing, Robin, and good luck.
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno has been named a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, alongside San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton and New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner.
The Masterton Trophy is awarded every season to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, perseverance and dedication to hockey. It is named after Bill Masterton, the only player to die as a direct result of injuries sustained in an NHL game. Last years winner, Brian Boyle, returned to the New Jersey Devils lineup after being diagnosed with and undergoing treatment for cancer.
Folignos nomination comes after missing two stretches of games this season while two of his children faced health issues. He stepped away from the team in December as his daughter Milana underwent heart surgery, and again in March as his son Hudston had a severe case of pneumonia.