Over the weekend the Golden Knights became the big story around the league and I’m sure it caught them off guard. It was probably even more unsettling as the club was bonding and preparing for the long season ahead up in Montana at owner Bill Foley’s ranch. The tweet storm might have made for some awkward moments at team breakfast.
Let’s rewind to earlier last week when outspoken goaltender Robin Lehner joined the boys at Spittin’ Chiclets to chat about an array of topics. As Vegas fans have learned in a little more than a year, Lehner’s honesty is refreshing.
Tuesday, September 28th – Spittin’ Chiclets Podcast Released
- Lehner discussed his status in net and how he professionally handled the Marc-Andre Fleury goaltending controversy.
I respect what he did actually, he stuck up for his client. It screwed me a bit. It wasn’t the greatest time… It turned up the heat. It really did. This is probably the most pressured season I’ve had coming into this year. It’s fueled by the narrative of how everything was left and the whole (Fleury) trade.-Robin Lehner on Spittin’ Chiclets
- Lehner also spoke about the Jack Eichel injury standoff with Buffalo and had heavy criticism for the Sabres organization.
I hate it. I know they put investments into us but I still think your body is your body. End of story. If Eichel wants to make his surgery and they are scared of protecting their investment, how hard could it be to have him sign a waiver? Is something goes wrong he doesn’t get paid. It bothers me because Jack Eichel is a world class talent. We didn’t always see eye to eye but I respect him as a person. Am
I saying this to trash the Sabres? No I’m not. If I wanted to hurt the Sabres I would have but they destroyed my ankle that year.- Lehner on Spittin’ Chiclets
- The Golden Knights goaltender suggested the NHL has stale “dinosaur” type executives and coaches that control the league and push their agenda’s even though sports and the world have changed.
We’re all robots. Everyone says the same thing. I understand 20 years ago but it’s 2021 now. Am I going to tell a player to be open and honest now? I know a lot of people have but yes they’re going to be punished.-Lehner on Spittin’ Chiclets
Wednesday, September 29th – Lehner plays first preseason game
- Lehner suited up for his first start of the preseason getting some important ice time. The #1 starter stopped 20 of 22 shots.
Friday, October 1st – Lehner tweets his feelings about the Jack Eichel situation in Buffalo
- Lehner stressed that it should be the players choice when it comes to their body.
Where is the @nhlpa and all nhl players in all this attacks on our freedom of choice? Jack situation is crazy to me.. also people getting attacked by journalist that hides behind freedom of speech to trash peoples freedom of choice. When does the hypocrisy end? #lifeaftercareer
— Robin Lehner (@RobinLehner) October 1, 2021
- Lehner also shows disappointment with the NHL Players union and their silence.
@NHLPA it’s disappointing… all I got to say. Same with nhl players not sticking up for each other. Remember next time is you…
— Robin Lehner (@RobinLehner) October 2, 2021
Saturday, October 2nd – Lehner tweets picture of ankle from his injuries in Buffalo
- Lehner accuses Buffalo of screwing up his ankle and pushing pain killers.
Sunday, October 3rd – Lehner calls out Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault for his tactics handling injured players
- Lehner labels Vigneault a dinosaur coach and calls for his firing.
#PhiladelphiaFlyers ? Dinosaur coach treating people robots not human. Fire these dinosaurs. Fire #vigneault first story. I got proof.. try to shake your way out of this one ….
— Robin Lehner (@RobinLehner) October 3, 2021
- Lehner accuses Vigneault, the Flyers and other organizations for irresponsibly handing players prescription drugs.
Yes. Many teams without prescription just hand it out
— Robin Lehner (@RobinLehner) October 3, 2021
Monday, October 4th – SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman tweets the league is aware of Lehner’s accusations
- The NHL would like to have a conversation with Vegas’ netminder.
There is word this morning the NHL is going to reach out to Robin Lehner…ask if he would like to be directly interviewed by the league.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 3, 2021
- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reacts to Lehner’s tweets and
suggested players shouldn’t be forced to tweet out internal information. Bettman also added that the league has services available to players.
We take his comments seriously and we’d like in short order to be in a conversation with him so we can hear his concerns directly and we’re going to follow up to see what merit there may be to his concerns. You don’t have to tweet to get our attention. We have an 800 number people can call. You can call us directly, we’re an open book. But if he has concerns we want to hear them and see how they need to be addressed.-Gary Bettman with SportsNet’s Jeff Marek
- Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault responds to Lehner’s strong accusations.
I consider myself experienced. A dinosaur? You could say with experience you become a dinosaur maybe. But I do know I’ve been coaching a few years and I am tough, I am demanding but I care about my players. Through the years probably there are some guys who liked me and probably some a little less, but I’ve done it with the best intention (and) with respect.- Alain Vigneault, Flyers coach
- Vigneault was confused and disappointed about the idea of him pushing prescription pills.
I was obviously very disappointed, as far as me pushing pills, I don’t need another income. I have no idea where that comes from. I don’t know what else to say. I have no idea.- Alain Vigneault, Flyers coach
Chances are the league and possibly the Golden Knights front office are scrambling to squash the accusations, but would also like to listen to Lehner’s concerns. Expect more developments to come down this week.