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Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner ripped the NHL on Wednesday, claiming that after players were coerced into taking the COVID-19 vaccine with promises of loosening restrictions, the league is now not following through on them.
“We are vaccinated and we are still trapped in a prison,” Lehner told reporters.
In a 10-minute rant, the one-time Islander chastised the NHL for “forcing” players to receive the coronavirus vaccine and making it seem more appealing with assurances that they wouldn’t be subjected to the strict quarantine protocols. He said the league is choosing “competitive edge” over how players are treated and feels misled by the league.
Lehner, who has been outspoken about his mental health in recent years, cited his bipolar diagnosis and said “one of the things they tell you not to do is isolation.”
“At some point we’ve got to start looking at the mental health of people around us, not just the NHL, but everyone in society and see how can we start getting back to normalcy,” the 29-year-old said, “because the problem is going to be huge. But lying to us about things changing to kind of forcing us to take the vaccine. Unacceptable. And now that we’ve taken the vaccine to have the excuse of saying, ‘Nah, we’re not changing because of competitive advantage.’ It’s outrageous.”
The NHL and NHL Players Association drew up strict guidelines for teams to follow at the beginning of the 2020-21 season before sending out additional restrictions later. In a memo sent out in February that was obtained by The Post, players (and coaches, members of the training and equipment staffs and other operations personnel) in their home market, “shall remain at home and not leave except to attend practice or games or perform essential activities.”
It was also “strongly advised” that all family members should limit their discretionary activities outside the home.
Lehner tried to add more context to his comments after they started circulating, noting that “everything didn’t come out in the right way” in a detailed Twitter thread.
“Main point is that we need to start take the mental health important as well In this situation,” Lehner wrote. “It has a huge impact on everyone in society right now. To put competitive edge before well being of people lives is wrong… But this missed the mark. My bad to say it’s like prison and I apologize but with mental health issues that is developing in the world it develops problems mentally.”
Lehner’s comments come a day after the Canucks played just their second game since March 24 due to a severe COVID-19 outbreak on the team. The Canucks had up to 25 positives cases, which were later discovered to be a variant of the virus, and many experienced serious symptoms, with family members falling ill as well.
The Golden Knights are currently the top seed in the West Division and could officially clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Sharks on Wednesday night.
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