Robin Lehner was named as one of the three finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy on Friday morning, given annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.
Lehner certainly embodies that, posting a career-year after disclosing his previous struggles with addiction and mental health issues in a story in The Athletic. Lehner went to rehab over the offseason - where he was also diagnosed as bi-polar - and is now one-year sober. The Isles goalie set personal bests in wins (25) and shutouts (6), while finishing second in the NHL with .930 SV% and third with a 2.13 GAA.
Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno and San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton are the other two finalists.
Lehner called the Masterton nomination a huge honor, but said while it's technically an individual award, his growth on and off the ice has been a team effort.
"It's a huge honor, obviously," Lehner said. "It wouldn't be possible without all of the pieces around me, starting from my family and friends, going throughout this whole team, the relationships me and [Thomas Greiss] have had all year, pushing each other, supporting each other. Everyone from Lou down on up the whole organization has been great."
Lehner also said he's received tremendous support from his two previous teams, the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators.
"It's a collective thing and obviously a huge honor," Lehner said.
Video: Practice Update 4/19: Robin Lehner
Islanders President & GM Lou Lamoriello, as well as Head Coach Barry Trotz, both weighed in on Lehner's nomination, re-iterating their pride in the strides the 27-year-old has made in his life.
"Your life and your family are primary. The sports and your job are secondary," Trotz said. "We're very proud of what he's done, I've had a lot of situations and seen different outcomes and it's a hard journey and he's handled it very well. It's well-deserved."
"You're most proud for what he's done as a person," Lamoriello said. "How he's handled whatever his past was and whatever did go wrong and how he's addressed that. He had to address that. Certainly you give as much support as you can and his teammates have done that. He's done that with his teammates by respecting them and who they were. He's most deserving of it."
The Masterton will be given out at the NHL Awards on June 19 in Las Vegas. Two Islanders have won the Masterton Trophy in the past, Ed Westfall in 1977 for his leadership and Mark Fitzpatrick in 1992 for overcoming Eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome.
Regardless of what happens with the Masterton, Lehner - and Thomas Greiss - will receive the William M. Jennings Trophy for fewest goals against this season.