Vegas Golden Knights goalkeeper Robin Lehner said NHL players were lied to by NHL and NHLPA officials for relaxing restrictions after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, a claim made by the league was contested.
“They told me yesterday that they are interviewing all the teams to see who took the vaccine and who didn’t take the vaccines, and they are not going to change the rules for us as players until all the players have the vaccine at the same time, so it is no competitive advantage, “said Lehner in a passionate press conference on Wednesday. “That drove me crazy, to be honest. This is human life and people struggle a lot with this stuff in society and we are human like everyone else.”
Shortly after his remarks, Lehner tweeted: “As I am frustrated like many people in the world at the moment, not everything has come right out of today’s press. The most important point is that we have to start taking mental health, even in this situation important. It has a huge impact on everyone in society right now. “
Both the NBA and MLB have implemented guidelines stating that if 85% of a team’s players and staff are vaccinated, the leagues can relax restrictions on meeting or testing frequencies. Lehner said he learned that the NHL would have similar policies.
“That was a lie,” said Lehner. “A blatant lie.” Lehner said he spoke to NHLPA officials yesterday who were associated with the NHL.
However, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN that no such promises had been made to the players.
“It was a matter that was brought up and discussed between us and the NHLPA, but a decision to change has never been made or communicated to anyone,” Daly said.
The NHLPA said it had been a difficult season in which to improve the logs. However, the organization said it failed to tell players that there will be a direct link between taking the vaccine and relaxing protocols immediately.
Lehner said he was given a sheet explaining the NBA’s benefits for their teams reaching vaccination thresholds. When Vegas players pondered whether or not to get the vaccine, Lehner said they were referred to these printouts of the NBA guidelines.
Many teams in the US have made sure their players get vaccinated when needed. The NHL and NHLPA do not mandate vaccination, but have recommended it for players. It is unclear how many players were vaccinated.
The 29-year-old Lehner was open to his sanity. As an NHL player, he was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder, as well as ADHD and post-traumatic stress that resulted from childhood trauma. The goalkeeper said that due to his bipolar disorder, he was advised not to be isolated from others – which was a battle through the pandemic.
“We had a meeting when the season started at the beginning of the camp which pretty much told us that you can’t go out of the house, can’t do anything, can’t go to the grocery store, can’t do anything on the street, you can have a meal in the dining room, but sit down in your room, don’t be with your teammates, don’t do this, don’t do that, “said Lehner.
“Nobody thinks about the mental effects. And there are people who struggle. I know people are going to say, ‘Oh, you are millionaires, this and that, you cry, what about these guys?’ We care too, man. No matter what people think. This is a societal issue. But when the government, corporations, and NHL make decisions about these irrelevant things like “competitive advantage” over humans, that’s not okay, man. “
Earlier this season, several NHL players told ESPN how this unusual and very isolating season had affected their mental health. “When some people have problems it adjusts to be locked up like this at home or on the rink,” said Vancouver Canucks forward Tyler Motte. “They don’t have outlets that they’re used to.”