Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner claims he would have been thrown out of the NHL after being open about his drug problems and mental illness had he not been white. In other words, Lehner feels his "white privilege" is what has enabled him to become the goaltender he has become over the past two seasons.
Lehner made these comments to Swedish-language publication Aftonbladet following the NHL's two-day protest in the wake of Jacob Blake's shooting in Kenosha, WI. Lehner, of course, established himself as one of the top goaltenders in the NHL once he went public with his history of substance abuse, alcoholism and mental health. Prior to that, he struggled during stints with the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres. It's Lehner's contention that he would have never been afforded the opportunities he was given with the New York Islanders, Chicago Blackhawks and Golden Knights if he weren't white.
From Lehner, translated to English:
After everything I went through and said and done, I am convinced that I have been thrown out of the league by now. I had not been here now. I'm absolutely sure. You have to look in the mirror and realize that you have a white privilege. That's the case with racism. It is everywhere. But it is 2020 now and it should not be anywhere.
The NHL is a very white league and it is important that we white players take responsibility and push for change. Our league should be open to everyone.
Lehner has been very outspoken in his support of the Black Lives Matter movement, going so far as to denounce his one-time support for U.S. President Donald Trump. Of course, Lehner was also one of the individuals who "took a knee" in silent protest during the singing of the American National Anthem prior to the NHL's two-day protest. He was joined by fellow Golden Knight Ryan Reaves and by Dallas Stars forwards Tyler Seguin and Jason Dickinson.
It's worth noting that the 29 year old Lehner is once again a free agent this offseason and, whether due to his white privilege or not, is likely to get another opportunity in the NHL again. Whatever the reasons are for Lehner turning the corner in his career, you have to give the guy credit for standing up for what be believes in.