Marc-Andre Fleury used to say one of his favorite television shows was the soap opera, “Days of Our Lives.”
I’m sure the former Golden Knights goalie hasn’t witnessed the drama of late that has found the team.
He might even have had a laugh or two about it.
Robin Lehner sat on the bench in uniform wearing a baseball hat Sunday night, indeed the backup goalie for the Golden Knights against San Jose following several days of outside reports and team denials when it comes to his health.
Which begs the question: If, as head coach Pete DeBoer said following a victory against Washington on Wednesday, that Lehner is paid to start such games, why wasn’t he in net against the Sharks in place of Logan Thompson?
Every game until the Knights either qualify for the playoffs or are mathematically eliminated is the season’s biggest one yet, no? It’s the most important time of the year, yes?
Here’s the answer: Lehner isn’t healthy.
Thompson gives the Knights the better chance at winning.
(No matter what happened Sunday. More on that later.)
The pendulum of opinion regarding Lehner swings far and wide, but the truth doesn’t lie somewhere in the middle.
A review of the week in question:
Wednesday: Lehner was pulled in a 1-1 game following the first period against Washington after stopping 12-of-13 shots. He was replaced by Thompson, credited with the victory in a 4-3 overtime win.
At the time, DeBoer said Lehner was “healthy, he’s fresh, he’s got a lot of energy and we need him at this point.”
Thursday: The team was off.
Friday: ESPN and The Athletic reported that Lehner had chosen to undergo season-ending surgery for a lower-body injury. He missed practice in what DeBoer termed a maintenance day. The coach again reiterated that there was nothing physically wrong that would keep Lehner from performing.
Saturday: Lehner was again a no-show at practice, before which the team bizarrely released a statement saying he was again using a maintenance day.
That which might have made sense on the team’s side of things — not wanting to answer questions about what is increasingly becoming a controversial point of interest — it definitely raised more red flags about what was really occurring.
Who in the world sends out a release regarding a maintenance day?
I actually feel bad for DeBoer. Like with former coach Gerard Gallant, it seems as though he’s carrying the water for whatever message management wants delivered at a specific time.
DeBoer wouldn’t admit as much. I just have to believe he would rather be more open about the situation.
This all has such an underlying Jack Eichel-Buffalo feel to it. In this case, it’s Lehner wanting to pursue one avenue for his health and the team another.
The Knights insist there is no story to this. That it’s much-ado-about nothing. That such reports shouldn’t be taken seriously. That all is well on the Lehner front.
Maybe they should put that in a pre-practice release.
“I actually have mixed feelings about it,” said Knights fan Joey a few hours before the puck dropped Sunday at T-Mobile Arena. “Of course, as a fan, you want Robin to succeed. But if he’s hurt, he shouldn’t play.
“He’s always going to be compared to Fleury here and I don’t agree with that. Every player is an individual. Every goalie is an individual. But he replaced the face of the franchise. It’s not the fairest thing for Robin. People get hurt.”
Sure seems that’s the case here.
Oh, yeah. The Knights on Sunday lost 5-4 in a shootout before 18,367 to seriously damage their playoff hopes.
Lehner sat and watched. Thompson took the defeat.
For once this week, things were drama free.
You know. Except for the actual game.
Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at email@example.com. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.