The deep attachment between Robin Lehner and the Islanders’ fans has extended long past the goalie’s lone season on Long Island.
Which is why Sunday’s game at UBS Arena against Lehner’s Vegas Golden Knights promises to be an emotional one. It will be Lehner’s first chance to play in front of the Islanders’ crowd since departing — albeit not his choice — via free agency following the 2018-19 season.
Lehner detailed his addiction and mental health issues upon joining the Islanders and won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance and dedication after his one season with the team.
"Tomorrow I’ll go back to the people that accepted me for who I am and the ones that supported me no matter what," Lehner said via his verified Twitter account. "Gonna be amazing seeing you guys again. Long Island I’m forever grateful for you [sic] place in my journey. Often when I go trough [sic] these things I think of you."
Lehner has faced the Islanders twice since leaving, both times with the Islanders as the road team. He made 38 saves for Chicago for a 5-2 win on Dec. 27, 2019. This season, the Islanders won, 2-0, at Vegas on Oct. 24 as Lehner stopped 24 shots.
"Robin was a big part of us getting traction after all the change my first year," coach Barry Trotz said. "We can talk about what he’s done hockey wise. But I’m just really proud of what he’s done with his life. He was really good for us that year and we were really good for him."
Greene to be honored
Defenseman Andy Greene will be honored before Sunday’s faceoff for playing in his 1,000th regular-season game on Nov. 15 at Tampa Bay.
"It’s special to see," defenseman Scott Mayfield said. "I know it happened a couple of weeks ago but it’ll be nice to celebrate with him and his family. To go undrafted and play that many games, it’s a pretty special thing to do."
Current Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello, then running the Devils, signed Greene as an undrafted free agent out of Miami (Ohio) in 2006. Greene played 923 games for the Devils before being traded to the Islanders on Feb. 16, 2020.
Kyle Palmieri (lower body), did not practice after exiting Thursday’s 3-1 win over the visiting Bruins in the second period. He is day to day but unlikely to play Sunday. Mathew Barzal remains in COVID-19 protocol after testing positive in Detroit on Tuesday.