Lehner tells of his mental health battle

Former Sabres goalie Robin Lehner was with the team from 2015 to 2018

Joe DiBiase
September 13, 2018 - 1:49 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports


In an exclusive article with The Athletic, former Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner opened up about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, along with battles with alcohol and depression. He also mentions that current Sabres general manager Jason Botterill is still checking in on him every now and then.

Here's some of the most powerful quotes from Lehner.

"I was set up to go to Arizona to one of the best treatment centers in North America for addiction and trauma. In the airport ready to fly, I sat by myself with a hoodie over my head drinking beers. At that point I thought I had only two options. Get on that plane and do this or end this once and for all now. I got on the plane."

"I wasn’t in control of my own mind. It always had a reason and excuse to do whatever it felt like it wanted. I wished there was something else I knew I could do other than abusing pills and alcohol. There always was, but I never had the courage to get help. I was scared. What was going to happen to my career and everyone’s perception of me?"

"During this whole process our GM in Buffalo was so incredibly supportive. We met when I came back and had a great and productive discussion. Jason and the Sabres organization had decided to move on from me as their goalie and, in the end, my family and I thought a restart would be the best thing. I still wanted to stay if they wanted me. But deep inside I knew changing scenery would be the best thing for my recovery. Now what to do. My relationship with Jason didn’t end in that meeting. He contacted me during the summer a few times to check in on me. His check-ins still continue today, despite me not being on his team. "

Lehner was not a "Jason Botterill guy". He was acquired by Tim Murray in exchange for a first round pick just before the 2015 NHL Draft, which the Senators then selected forward Colin White with the pick. To this point in his career, White has played 23 games, putting up just two goals and four assists in that time.

In three seasons with the Sabres, Lehner started 133 games, winning just 42 of them and putting up a .916 save percentage. He was signed by the New York Islanders in the offseason to a one-year, $1.5 million deal. Still just 27-years-old, if Lehner can stay on the right track with his mental health, he can still have a long career in the NHL.

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