Robin Lehner has never shied away from his troubled past.
The Islanders goalie, who battled alcohol and pill addiction but has now been sober for more than a year while also undergoing medical treatment for mental-health issues, won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance and dedication at the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday night.
And Barry Trotz, whom Lehner thanked in his acceptance speech for “thinking about the human first, I’ve got to respect that,” won the Jack Adams Award as the top coach. He also won the award with the Capitals in 2016.
Lehner indicated he wanted his example to help others.
“I took that first step and it’s been life changing for me,” said Lehner, of going through rehab last offseason. “Got to keep pushing, end the stigma. I’m not ashamed to say I’m mentally ill. But that doesn’t mean mentally weak.”
Lehner was also a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie that was won by the Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Lehner and Thomas Greiss also shared the Jennings Trophy, given to the goalies who have played at least 25 games for the team that allowed the fewest goals in the regular season.
Lehner, who signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Islanders and is an impending unrestricted free agent after going 25-13-5 with a 2.13 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage, acknowledged to the media in Las Vegas his continued sobriety is a factor in his contract negotiations. The free- agent market opens on July 1.
He joins Ed Westfall (1977) and Mark Fitzpatrick (1992) as the only Islanders to win the Masterton, which is voted upon by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
“Wow, thank you,” Lehner said. “Everybody who voted for me. My fantastic wife who stuck this out with me. I want to thank the New York Islanders’ organization.”
Trotz, after guiding the Capitals to the Stanley Cup in 2018, spearheaded a defensive turnaround in his first season with the Islanders. They had a 23-point improvement in the standings in going 48-27-7 and finishing second in the Metropolitan Division as they made the playoffs for the first time since 2016. They swept the Penguins in the first round before being swept by the Hurricanes.
“I’d like to thank the New York Islanders’ organization for giving me a chance, especially Lou Lamoriello,” Trotz said. “This is a team award, you have to understand that. You can’t have the success without the buy-in from the players.”
Hall of Famer Al Arbour (1979) is the only other Islanders coach to have won the award, which is voted upon by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.
Other award winners:
The Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov (41 goals, 87 assists) won the Hart Trophy as the MVP as voted on by the PHWA and the Ted Lindsay Award as the most outstanding player, as voted on by the players.
The Flames’ Mark Giordano won the Norris Trophy as the top defenseman with 165 of the 171 first-place votes.
The Canucks’ Elias Pettersson (28 goals, 38 assists) earned 151 of the 171 first-place votes for the Calder Trophy as the rookie of the year.
The Bruins’ Don Sweeney was named the general manager of the year. Lamoriello finished fifth in the voting.