Buffalo Sabres: Robin Lehner Embraces New Challenge


Buffalo Sabres: Robin Lehner Embraces New Challenge

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Robin Lehner has no qualms about admitting that he was initially disappointed to be traded to the Buffalo Sabres. However, the goaltender has since come to terms with the move, and is now ready to embrace a new challenge in Western New York.

This was just one of a number of topics discussed at the weekend with Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun. However, the main thing to take away from the interview was the fact Lehner comes to Buffalo, motivated and thankful for the opportunity that lies ahead.

The goaltender said: “I’m just happy it was a good fit. I’m really looking forward to playing for the Buffalo Sabres.

“They have a really interesting team that they’re building right now. So, it’s pretty exciting for me.”

Dec 10, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save on Buffalo Sabres center Luke Adam (72) during the second period at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Without doubt, the best thing about the move for Lehner, is the chance to be the number one guy between the pipes. Rightly or wrongly, he feels like he was never given a fair opportunity in Ottawa.

Lenher told Garrioch: ” I think there was something between me and Paul (MacLean) that didn’t click when he was there. He came from a veteran team in Detroit where it takes a long time for the young guys to break through I think.

“It was nothing personal between us I don’t think. It just seemed like when I’d start getting hot I didn’t get the chance to play and that happened on several occasions.”

In fairness though, the 23-year old acknowledges he was at least partly to blame for not putting himself in the best position to succeed. As he said: “That’s on me…Maybe I have to deal with it better.”

Overall, Lehner is grateful for his time in Ottawa: “They gave me a lot of things and I can’t talk good enough about them. They brought me in when I was young.

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“They gave me all the tools, they helped me become a professional and a man. They helped me with so many different things I can’t thank them enough.”

While the Gothenburg, Sweden native is excited by the chance to be the number one goaltender in Buffalo, not everyone is as thrilled. A lot of fans – and media – believe the Sabres gave up too much for an unproven commodity, with limited experience.

Admittedly, the trade by General Manager Tim Murray is a risk. However, when you consider the recent record of players selected 21st in the NHL draft, I believe it is a risk worth taking.

Make no mistake though, the Sabres made the trade based on the potential of Lehner, which includes good mobility and lateral movement, combined with excellent size. Of course, as we all know, there are no guarantees this potential will translate into regular production on the ice.

One other concern regarding the 2011 AHL Calder Cup MVP, is the concussion he suffered back in February. However, he did his best to alleviate any fears: “I’ve been good now for a couple of months. I’ve started working out.

“It was tough for me because I basically sat still and didn’t lift a finger for (three-to-four) months. I started feeling better after (six weeks) and then I went on the bike and I got my headaches back.

“Now, I’ve been working out and I’ve got a ways to go. (However), I’m ready to really push it so that I’m ready for the season.”

In part, Lehner will be eager to be ready for opening night, because of the opportunity to start in net against his former team at First Niagara Center: “It’s going to be fun. The guys know my buttons and they’re going to try to push them. I’m excited.”

Overall, no matter what people may think about Lehner, it is at least refreshing to hear that he seems to have the right attitude: “I gotta earn it there. I’m very excited for the opportunity, especially going in (where) they have a lot of belief in me.

“To have a good chance to compete for the No. 1 spot is something I’ve always wanted. It’s going to be a nice challenge.”