Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

While Robin Lehner’s frustration is valid, he (and each of us) needs to realize we’re not done with COVID-19

Robin Lehner is going to have to be patient a little while longer.
Robin Lehner is going to have to be patient a little while longer.
Image: Getty Images

Robin Lehner once again got on his personal soapbox that he carries with him everywhere he goes to rail against the NHL’s response, or lack thereof, to players getting vaccinated.

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Certainly, Lehner’s description of the hardship of being locked down everywhere but the practice rink or arenas is not to be dismissed. Many players have talked about the toll of being alone in their apartments or hotel rooms, especially those for whom the U.S. and Canada is a foreign country. This is a more than valid concern. But, it’s what their players’ union signed off on. It wouldn’t be the first time players didn’t have a full grip on what their union had provided them.

Lehner has been very up front about his mental health issues, being diagnosed as bipolar some years ago. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t sometimes hidden behind it to bellow some galaxy-brained views into the microphones he’s all too happy to position himself in front of. Like this Trump sticker on his helmet, or decrying cancel culture when it removed an abusive racist from the coaching ranks, or perhaps to bus-toss his teammates. On the other side, he was one of the minuscule number of players to kneel during the anthem in last summer’s bubble.

It would not be a shock if Lehner was an anti-vaxxer or somewhere around there but signed on because of what he thought was promised. But as he usually does, he missed the wider picture. The Canucks just returned from a major outbreak of COVID-19 that had some players intensely ill. The Avalanche are still in one. The Twins in MLB had games canceled as did the Nationals, and other teams have had positive tests. Now would hardly be the time to loosen restrictions and protocols when we’re obviously nowhere near clear of the pandemic. Lehner might have his vaccine, but not nearly enough people do, folks likely in his very dressing room as well, to take the risk.

No one’s arguing it’s easy for players. But it’s going to have to remain hard for a little while longer yet, whatever Lehner claims the NHL told him.

We can't be too careful. Two guys in an airport...talking? It's a little fishy.