Robin Lehner did not come home with the Vezina trophy, but he and goalie tandem partner Thomas Greiss accepted the William Jennings Trophy along with Lehner’s award for “perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.”
Lehner, previously announced as a finalist for the Vezina, finished third in the voting behind the Dallas Stars’ Ben Bishop and Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who won the award. In the final voting tally, Lehner received zero first-place votes; Bishop received two, while Vasilevskiy received 28.
The Jennings trophy was no surprise, as it automatically goes to the goaltending tandem with the fewest goals allowed during the regular season. But the night still allowed the two of them their moment in the spotlight as part of the festivities.
Lehner and Greiss combined to allow just 196 goals, and made the Islanders just the second team in NHL history to go from most goals allowed to fewest allowed in one season. The last team to do that was two World Wars ago.
Going into the night, Lehner reflection on his Vezina nomination could easily apply to both he and Greiss’ ascent to the Jennings win:
“There’s so many that deserve credit. It starts with [my] teammates and the organization. A lot of credit goes to [Director of Goaltending] Mitch Korn and [Goaltending Coach] Piero Greco too for helping me adjust some things in my game. It’s been a lot of hard work. It’s truly an honor.”
Earlier in the evening during the awards ceremony, Lehner’s outstanding performance and dedication were recognized with the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, an award he admitted was more meaningful given the journey he’s had in facing addiction and mental illness.
The Islanders hope to bring the tandem of Lehner and Greiss back next season, and Lehner hopes to be back. But going into the night, the unrestricted free agent had yet to reach an agreement on a new contract.
“I really want to stay. I think they want me to stay, so it shouldn’t be a big issue,” said Lehner, as reported by TSN. “But I’m a little bit of a special case, being one year – or about 14 or 15 months – sober right now. It’s not easy.”