As a goalie, Robin Lehner is used to having shots fired at him, but on Saturday night, he was the one unloading, as the Golden Knights goalie accused Flyers coach Alain Vigneault of… well, it’s not entirely clear, but the implication was pushing drugs on players.
In a three-tweet thread, Lehner asked if it is “common for work places to give out benzodiazepines to employees when they travel and ambien ? Should that not be done by doctors or psychiatrist?” Lehner said that this wasn’t about his current team in Vegas, but that “I know many other teams. I also been in on teams that do?”
Lehner went on to say the Flyers have a “dinosaur coach treating people robots not human,” and called for Vigneault to be fired, saying, “I got proof.. try to shake your way out of this one…”
Vigneault has never coached any of Lehner’s teams, but obviously a longtime NHL coach and a goalie who’s been in the league since 2010 have plenty of mutuals, including the Golden Knights’ new center, Nolan Patrick, a foreigner No. 1 pick of the Flyers. It’s not clear what beef there is between Vigneault and Lehner, but this isn’t the first time the netminder has made it clear he doesn’t think highly of the Philadelphia coach. In August, Lehner blamed Vigneault for stunting Flyers goalie Carter Hart’s development.
What is clear is that Lehner has had enough of what he sees as shoddy treatment of hockey players, doing everything to keep them on the ice, at the expense of long-term health. Specifically, Lehner has been tweeting a lot in recent days about Jack Eichel, stripped of the captaincy of the Buffalo Sabres, who don’t want him to get artificial disk replacement surgery.
Lehner, a two-time Jennings Trophy winner and the 2019 Masterton Trophy winner after returning from rehab, has been open about his struggle with addiction. He also got some backup on Saturday night from prominent agent Allan Walsh, best known in Lehner’s career for when he tweeted an image of his client, Marc-Andre Fleury, with a sword in his back after Lehner supplanted Fleury as the Golden Knights’ starter. Former NHL enforcer Daniel Carcillo also sounded the alarm for hockey, as he has been for years, in another Twitter thread.
Clearly, this is bigger than just the folks involved, and any light that can be shone on hockey’s issues with painkillers and other substances is a good and welcome thing. The sport already has lost too many men, too young, most notably Derek Boogaard due to an accidental mix of painkillers and alcohol in 2011, but also others who became addicts during their playing days as they sacrificed their bodies to the game.