Robin Lehner delivers strong message at NHL awards: 'I’m mentally ill, but that doesn’t mean mentally weak'

Robin Lehner of the New York Islanders accepts the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey during the 2019 NHL Awards. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The 2018-19 season saw an incredible turnaround from New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner.

The 27-year-old played the best hockey of his career, posting a 2.13 goals against average and .930 save percentage, earning him enough votes to be a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender.

He also made major news off the ice, speaking on his problems with substance abuse and receiving a diagnosis for a mental health issue. The pair of incredible stories earned him a Masterton Award nomination as well.

The Masterton Award goes to the player that best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. Prior to Wednesday’s award ceremony, Lehner said that the Masterton meant more to him and his family than the Vezina.

Lehner ended up winning the award, and when he took to the stage at T-Mobile Arena, it was evident how much the honour meant to him. After thanking his family, the Islanders organization, and everyone in the program that helped him get sober, he made an important statement.

“I took that first step, got help and that was life changing to me,” Lehner said in front of the audience. “It’s something that we’ve got to keep pushing for and we’ve got to end the stigma.”

On a night filled with jokes, glamour and fun, Lehner found a way to deliver an important message that a lot of people might need to hear.

“I’m not ashamed to say I’m mentally ill, but that doesn’t mean mentally weak.”

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