New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner gave an emotional acceptance speech on mental health upon receiving the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy at the 2019 NHL Awards Wednesday evening.
Lehner won the award based on a vote by the Professional Hockey Writers Association as the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. He came out publicly with his battle with bipolar disorder and addiction before this past season and went on to have career-best year, also earning a nomination for the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL’s best goaltender.
“I took that first step, got help, and that was life changing for me. It’s something we’ve got to keep pushing for. We’ve got to end the stigma,” Lehner said upon receiving the Masterton Trophy, followed by loud applause. “I’m not ashamed to say I’m mentally ill, but that doesn’t mean mentally weak.”
Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division applauds Lehner for his openness regarding his mental health and for using his platform to help reduce stigma.
CMHA Ontario leads the national mental health awareness program Talk Today, which is tailored specifically for athletes. Launched in partnership with the Ontario Hockey League in 2014, Talk Today has since expanded across the Canadian Hockey League and into other junior hockey leagues, high schools, colleges, universities and minor sports organizations all over the country. Through Talk Today, more than 4,000 of young athletes and team personnel have received mental health and suicide awareness training, thousands more elementary school students have participated in classroom presentations, and hundreds of thousands of fans have attended mental health awareness games.