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Lehner won't take pay cut to remain with Blackhawks

Goalie, who can become free agent after season, has been 'taking discounts my whole life'

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- Robin Lehner said he is open to re-signing with the Chicago Blackhawks, but the 28-year-old goalie won't take a pay cut to do it.

Lehner, who can become an unrestricted free agent after this season, signed a one-year, $5 million contract with Chicago on July 1, 2019, after he was a Vezina Trophy finalist for best goalie in the NHL with the New York Islanders last season.

"We'll see what happens, but I've been taking discounts my whole life," Lehner said. "I'm not a guy who wants to be overpaid either. I want to gain some respect that I think I deserve. We'll see if that happens or not. We'll see what happens."

Lehner was 25-13-5 with a 2.13 GAA, a .930 save percentage and six shutouts with the Islanders last season and won the Masterton Trophy, given to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Lehner went public with his battle against alcoholism, drug abuse and depression that led to suicidal thoughts in an article he wrote for The Athletic prior to the 2018-19 season.

He's performed well with the Blackhawks this season, going 12-7-4 with a 2.92 GAA and .922 save percentage.

"We'll see what happens, but I'll let the agents and [Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman] figure that out," Lehner said. "It's a different summer this summer than last summer. Me personally, it's another year under my belt in my new journey. The market is quite open; a lot of teams need goalies, and yeah, it's not that many goalies that are available this season."

Bowman said Tuesday that he wouldn't comment on whether he's had contract talks with Lehner, or other pending free agents, but that he's been happy with Lehner this season.

"His reading of the game is second to none," Bowman said. "I think you put that together with the amount of net he covers on his own, then his reaction time and his anticipation, he makes some great saves. Even when we're not on top of our game, he keeps us in the games long enough to get going. I think that's what you're hoping your goalies can do, and he's been excellent."

Lehner is 109-117-44 with a 2.71 GAA and .918 save percentage in 290 NHL games.

"All I know is I really like it here and we'll see," Lehner said. "I've learned enough, this is a business and no matter how good things are going, how well you like it, sometimes it's not up to you and it's not in your control. But I know where I stand, I really like this team and I still really believe in this team. and the pieces this team has. I'd like to be a part of the turnaround."

The Blackhawks (19-20-6), who are eight points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, host the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCH+, PRIME, NHL.TV). 

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