Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Robin Lehner: Two Autographed Cards

A lot of hockey fans follow their local or favourite team and little else; they'll try to keep up with their team's former players, but not work too hard at it, usually just reading a couple of newspaper articles a few times a year when they're facing their former teammates.

Therefore, many Buffalo Sabres fans did not realize how serious - and seriously good - a guy like Robin Lehner is. Many lambasted then-GM Tim Murray for sacrificing a first-rounder and adding the expensive cap hit of David Legwand to acquire Lehner's services from the Ottawa Senators, but he's proved time and time again to having what it takes to be a #1 goalie in the NHL.

He's fiery, hates to lose, doesn't accept when his teammates don't give it their all, is prone to violent altercations or just intimidating opponents, was a second-round draft pick (46th overall in 2009) and won the Jack A" Butterfield Trophy (as the Playoff MVP) when his Binghamton Senators won the Calder Cup in 2011.

Sure, he's had a few injuries - including concussion issues - since then and at one point had to share the net with Team USA alumni Craig Anderson and Ben Bishop in Ottawa, but he was always good enough to be a starter in the best league in the world.

He proved it once more last year, by posting top-10 numbers (.920 save percentage, 2.48 GAA, 1758 saves in 3418 minutes played over 59 games) on a team "boasting" one of the worst defenses in the league. I mean, have a look, it's a veritable "who's that?" of minuses and disappointment:
The offense was nothing to write home about either, as only Jack Eichel even came close to a point-per-game performance, while the likes of Evander Kane, Kyle Okposo, Matt Moulson, Ryan O'Reilly and Sam Reinhart produced sub-par seasons at the same time.

Which makes the one-year, $4M contract Lehner signed today exactly what both sides needed: a "show me" deal to prove to new management that he can get the job done behind an improved team, and a salary worth his accomplishments so far that also fits perfectly under the salary cap.

In his honor, here are two cards from his days with the Sens, first wearing the white (away) uniform, on the "Retro" variant of card #408 from Upper Deck's 2011-12 O-Pee-Chee set:
And here he is wearing their red (home) uniform, on card #361 from Panini's 2013-14 Score set:
He signed both in blue sharpie after a Sabres-Sens game in February 2015. Both cards catch him in his usual "eyeing the puck while it moves" stance, checking with his stick that he's covering the right angle, ready to kneel down in a butterfly move should a shot come.

He celebrated his 26th birthday yesterday, so this will be a good week for the Lehner household.

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