A Star, A Mensch, A Hero: Thank You Robin Lehner

Dear Robin,

You are a hero.

Robin Lehner, you have done something no athlete has done before. You told your story, confessing a chronicle of pain that ate away at your very existence. As a result, you saved lives.

There are no words to describe the impact you made on the hockey world in just one short year. A playoff series victory, Vezina Trophy nomination and Masterson Trophy later and here we are. Your days in the blue and orange are over.

It all started in free agency a year ago. The Islanders needed a goalie and you needed a new home. Many teams were fearful of your struggles, but the Islanders were not.

What transpired after surprised us all. On Sep. 13, 2018, you opened up to the world in a heartfelt, honest piece that held nothing back. Airport bars, detox rooms and therapist chairs were no longer your reality. Your illness did not define you any longer.

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. My journey is still new. Every day is a battle and each day a new chance to grow as a man. It is time to take the “crazy person” stamp from bipolar disorder. I am working hard to become the latest to battle this unfair stigma. Our battle together is just beginning. And now that I have begun my battle with what’s behind me, it’s time to battle what’s in front of me.

This one article — your story — did not just help you. It helped us all.

Mental health is a fundamentally misunderstood problem in this country. The stigma is real and must be stopped. You helped the cause immensely.

Fans rallied around your play in net, in awe with one of the best netminders to occupy the Islanders crease. People struggling with mental health issues used your story to motivate them. There are children out there who decided to give life a second chance because of your acts of heroism.

There is Jack, a little fighter born with half a heart. Through one Tweet, your impact on the local community was perfectly summarized. It is more about what transpires on the ice. The memories made off it are important too.

Lehner embraces Jack after a game on Apr. 1.

But how can we forget your play last season? In 43 starts, you logged a 25-13-5 record, notching a .930 save percentage and 2.13 goals against average. It was a historic performance.

For years, the Islanders have been searching for their franchise goalie. And I can’t help but feel like you were the one. Over the course of a year, you played like I have never seen anyone play before: determined, dedicated and dominant. There were moments when nothing could get by you.

I have never trusted a player more in my life.

And in return, you trusted us. The fans. The Island. The Islanders. And we let you down. While this may be coming to an end, the memories shared will not.

Loyalty is an interesting concept, and at the end of the day, this was just one season. However, you embodied the blue and orange motto, loyally donning the logo on your chest. You will be immortalized as an icon.

Whatever the future may hold, you will always have a special place on Long Island. Thank you for inspiring us to be our best selves. Thank you for saving lives by telling your story. Thank you for being you.

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened. And there is certainly a lot to smile about.

Sincerely,

The Islanders Fanbase

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