Sunday, January 20, 2019

Robin Lehner Autograph Card

Earlier today, one of the ten best goalies in the NHL this year shut out the Vezina frontrunner's team, as the New York Islanders' Robin Lehner blanked John Gibson's Anaheim Ducks 3-0. Gibson's having a season for the ages, where he is solely responsible for 90% of the Ducks' cumulative points this year, but Lehner currently ranks second in both GAA (2.02, behind Laurent Brossoit's 2.01) and save percentage (.930, behind Jack Campbell's .931). Yes, only a pair of backups are ahead of Lehner, mostly because he has played more games than both of them combined.

Rounding out the "best goalie" conversation are Ben Bishop (2.37 and .921 on a Dallas Stars team that has trouble scoring two goals per game), Marc-André Fleury (2.49 and .911, to go along with a league-leading 27 wins), the two-headed Boston Bruins monster comprised of Tuukka Rask (2.43, .919) and Jaroslav Halak (2.47, .919), Andrei Vasilevskiy (2.50 and .925 playing for the league-leading and nearly flawless Tampa Bay Lightning), surprising Calgary Flames sophomore David Rittich (2.49 and .917), last year's winner Pekka Rinne (2.51 and .913) and the Toronto Maple Leafs' Frederik Andersen (2.54 and .922).

One thing that sets Lehner apart is his own admission of being ten-months sober from alcohol and sleeping pills right before the regular season started, as well as bouts fighting bipolar disease and depression.

It took major balls to look deep inside himself and tell the world that while we could all see his level of talent and competitiveness, the reason why he was let go by the Buffalo Sabres was himself, and the reasons why he lost the #1 goalie job on a team that's poised to make a huge bounce in the standing in the next few years come from within.

He's now seemingly dealt with his demons and gotten his career back on track, and now all he needs to do is keep walking that line and forging ahead. Should he not win the Vezina, he'll likely get strong Masterton Trophy consideration and a new, more lucrative deal for the future, two more reasons to keep at it.

Here he is at the beginning of his NHL career, on card #39 of the NHL Ink sub-set from Panini's 2011-12 Contenders set:
It is a beautiful, relatively thick, sleek and clean card, with lots of blank space for him to sign in blue sharpie. It shows him sporting the Ottawa Senators' very best jersey, the black "O" throwback uniform, stopping a puck behind his net.

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