Robin Lehner’s season is now officially over. Today the Vegas Golden Knights announced that Lehner will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery despite attempts to complete the season by balancing rest and rehab.
Via the team’s release:
Robin has done his best to battle through this injury he sustained February 9, and we were hopeful that rest and rehab would allow him to complete the season.
He initially rehabbed and was able to return to play March 1. At times rest and rehab were effective, but ultimately Robin, in consultation with team medical staff, determined that this is the best course of action.
Late last week there were numerous reports that Lehner’s season was over, but head coach Pete DeBoer was unaware of that when he was asked.
Pete DeBoer says “not to my knowledge” in regarding to the report of Robin Lehner needing surgery. Maintenance day and he expects him to be at practice tomorrow.— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) April 22, 2022
Lehner served as the Golden Knights’ backup during a 5-4 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday, and the official news comes at a time in which the team’s chances of making the playoffs are very slim.
This was apparently at the request of the team, who reportedly asked Lehner to delay having surgery until after Sunday’s game.
ESPN Sources: Robin Lehner told VGK on Thursday he was getting surgery.— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) April 25, 2022
Team doctor agreed it was best course of action after evaluation Saturday. Then team asked the goalie to delay & back up last night before allowing it. They cited cap implications, per sources.
As to what the cap implications could be, this is a likely answer.
Can't go on LTIR if there isn't 10 games to miss. The cap advantage is that with Lehner active, you do not need to call up another goalie to keep 2 on the roster.— Earl Schwartz (@EarlSchwartz27) April 25, 2022
VGK would have to recall a goalie before placing Lehner on IR, not sure they have the cap space to do so.
Then there’s also the report from Elliotte Friedman that Lehner felt disrespected by some of the criticism he’s received. Via Sportsnet:
Lehner, who was playing hurt, was upset at some of the criticism he was receiving, and also being pulled the other night, and I believed he informed the Golden Knights he was going to have surgery, and shut it down, Friedman said.
No matter how you slice it, the situation is a mess.
Lehner returned from a nearly month long layoff on April 3rd, and he made 26 saves in a win vs. the Vancouver Canucks. He then lost vs. the Canucks on the 6th, beat the Arizona Coyotes on the 9th, lost to Vancouver again on the 12th, lost to the New Jersey Devils on the 18th, and was pulled after the first period vs. the Washington Capitals. Overall he went 2-2-1, and posted a .892 save percentage along with a 3.19 goals against average.
Lehner deserves credit for doing his best to support his team, but at some point you have to question whether or not that was the best decision for both Lehner and the team. Injuries have impacted the team greatly this year, but Logan Thompson has stepped up in a big way. Could he not have been used in some additional games over Lehner?
The Golden Knights front office will have to ponder these questions, but they will likely sit on the backburner as long as the team is still in playoff contention. Vegas will faceoff vs. the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, and the Golden Knights will need a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive.