Recently, Robin Lehner took to Twitter to raise awareness about how teams treat player health. He called out the Philadelphia Flyers and Alain Vigneault.
The culture of the NHL needs healing. Halfway through the 2021-2022 preseason, we’ve seen racism and player health resurface as issues within the hockey culture.
Jalen Smereck received a racist gesture from Andrei Denyskin a week ago. For that, the UHL suspended Denyskin for thirteen games and fined him. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Racism shouldn’t have a place at all.
Separate from that, but an issue nonetheless, the Buffalo Sabres have criminally mishandled Jack Eichel. He’s stripped of his captaincy because he decided to bypass the fusion neck surgery the Sabres are encouraging. At an elementary level, Eichel is well within his right to agree or disagree about what happens to his own body. The Sabres lost sight of that, denying Eichel’s counter of undergoing an artificial disk replacement. Afterward, Buffalo failed Eichel’s physical, deeming him unfit to play.
Breaking this wide open, from a player perspective, was Robin Lehner. He formerly played with Eichel on the Sabres from 2015-2018. Starting in the late afternoon on October 1st, 2021, Lehner tweeted:
He’s not wrong.
There is a reason why the Philadelphia Flyers fans would love to have Eichel and loathe the idea of playing against him. He’s an elite center who would play on the top line with just about any NHL team. You would think that Buffalo would allow Eichel to get the procedure he wants because he’s the one bringing fans to the KeyBank Center. Eichel is a generational talent wasting his time with the Sabres because he’s denied the team’s choice for his body.
“This is not an experimental procedure. This is established in the literature as being superior to the ACDF. It is exactly what I would give my kid and it would be exactly what I would get if I was in Jack Eichel’s shoes.”Dr. Chad J. Prusmack; 7/31/2021
Then, Lehner shed new light on an enormous issue within the NHL:
He indicates that teams within the NHL underhand non-prescription Ambien to players but is adamant that it doesn’t happen with the Vegas Golden Knights, his current team. In the same breath, he calls out the Flyers, namely Alain Vigneault.
Over this offseason, Nolan Patrick moved to the Golden Knights following a trade by Philadelphia to the Nashville Predators. His migraine disorder falls under the neuroscience umbrella. Immediately, the connection between Lehner’s accusations towards the Flyers, Vigneault, and Patrick ran rampant as the two have become teammates.
Vigneault has never coached Lehner. His proof, as he indicates, would come from another source. In a video from Sportsnet on YouTube, Patrick revealed he spoke with Dan Carcillo ahead of the 2020-2021 season. Opposite from Lehner, Carcillo was previously coached by Vigneault on the New York Rangers. Carcillo has only had glowing reviews about Vigneault on March 27th, 2021:
Lehner and Carcillo may have different experiences. Until more context from Lehner comes to pass, we don’t have any evidence to react to regarding his claim about Vigneault.
Flyers Issue Statement
Today, Chuck Fletcher stated this in the wake of the accusations made about Alain Vigneault by Robin Lehner:
“The health and well-being of our players is our top priority, and any care provided to them comes from the team’s health care professionals, not the coaching staff. We have no reason to believe any of our players have received improper care.”Chuck Fletcher; 10/3/2021
Based on what was said, that should dispel any allegation against Vigneault. The Philadelphia Flyers are taking this matter seriously by responding directly to medical malpractice accusations. It’s not the first time Lehner spoke of Vigneault during his tenure with the Flyers. Lehner was critical, saying Vigneault mishandled Carter Hart during 2020-2021.
Lehner feels passionate about these accusations towards Vigneault but hasn’t continued. He’s called out the NHL to speak with him and fix these issues. By bringing awareness to this situation, Lehner is helping the NHL heal.
There aren’t any justifiable links between these allegations to Vigneault based on the evidence on hand. Until more details unfold, we’re made aware without a precise conviction.