Any time news breaks regarding goaltending in the NHL, I know that my Twitter mentions are going to explode. And that definitely was the case Thursday morning, when the Vegas Golden Knights tweeted that goaltender Robin Lehner will undergo hip surgery and miss the entire 2022–23 NHL season.
First off, from a human standpoint, I’m really bummed for Lehner. Last season wasn’t easy for the 31-year-old Swedish netminder.
Lehner started off the season in fine form, backstopping the Golden Knights through a tumultuous first half of the season. But as the year progressed, injuries mounted: a torn shoulder that eventually required surgery, a broken knee, and now a torn hip that will also require him to go under the knife.
It’s no surprise that the quality of his play dipped as his body revolted against him last season. Lehner has never been the most dynamic goaltender, but it was obvious that something was hindering him in 2022. Pushing looked painful. Rotating was a chore. He was broken by the end of the season.
But what people don’t realize is just how hard it is to play through that kind of pain for so long. Lehner had to put himself through the wringer just to be available for his teammates.
Imagine having all the ailments I just listed and going through everyday life. It wouldn’t be easy. Now think about what it would be like to step on NHL ice and try to play the most scrutinized position in hockey. It takes a pile of courage to man the crease knowing your body isn’t 100 percent.
I played with goaltenders that would pull the chute the moment something ached. A slight muscle strain would put them on the shelf for weeks. But the bottom line was that they were scared. They only wanted to play as close to 100 percent as possible because they feared their numbers would tumble.
I didn’t mind playing with fragile goalies. All it meant was more ice time for myself.