Buffalo Sabres goalie Robin Lehner and late Buffalo K-9 officer Craig Lehner share a last name, but they were not related.
Craig Lehner was 34 years old when he drowned during an underwater training exercise on Oct. 17, a tragedy that sent shockwaves through the Buffalo community. Craig Lehner was also a military veteran who spent 16 years in the Army National Guard.
So on Military Appreciation Night at KeyBank Center,Robin Lehner did what he could to honor the man who shared his last name.
On the custom-made jerseys the Sabres wore during warmups, Robin Lehner had "C. Lehner" and the number 43 in place of his usual 40. The jersey number was a nod to Craig Lehner's radio call sign, which was K-9 43.
"It's been a huge presence here," Lehner told the Sabres website. "You really felt the loss through Buffalo the last weeks. I have a few friends that told me a lot about him, that served with him. And a lot of fans actually on social media too sent me a lot of messages.
While the rest of the Sabres camouflage jerseys will be auctioned off for charity, Robin Lehner presented his jersey to Craig Lehner's family.
"It just feels right. What they do for this country, being in the army and being a police offer, and it's not just him. It's for everyone he represents. I feel like in the City of Buffalo, it's a big presence. I take a lot of pride in it."
In addition to honoring Craig Lehner, the Sabres also had veterans Melvin Quast, Bill Webb, and Richard Costo on hand to drop the ceremonial first puck.