I have no doubt that some of the finer details of this conversation have been lost in translation, but recent comments from Las Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner made to the Swedish media leave very little room for interpretation.
Lehner recently made comments that suggest that he believes the National Hockey League to be a racist league, or at the very least is a league that would treat players differently based on the color of their skin which in my book is exactly the same thing. Lehner spoke with Per Bjurman of Sport Bladet and here's how Bjurman began his article.
Translated from Swedish:
Robin Lehner is convinced.
If he had been black, he would, after being open about problems with drugs and mental illness, have been thrown out of the NHL by now.
In my book that is a very ugly characterization of the National Hockey League and unless someone has some evidence to show me that this is indeed the case I'm going to have to object to this notion from Lehner. It's not just Bjurman putting words into Lehner's mouth either, a direct quote from the Swedish article also has Lehner stating as much while also discussing his "white privilege."
"I said as I thought to Ryan [Reaves]: 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," said Lehner over the phone from Edmonton as per Sports Bladet.
Lehner has been front and center when it comes to the National Hockey League's recent protests in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, protests that have not been well received by a large segment of the NHL's fan base. It sounds however like Lehner intends to continue the protests and even suggested that more needs to be done to further this agenda.
"It has been emotional days and then it was still only a first step. We must follow up with more action and try to contribute to real change," added Lehner.
I suspect that his latest comments, especially the ones about how the NHL would have treated a person from a minority background differently, will also be poorly received. I mean does anyone truly believe if an elite player in the NHL had a substance abuse problem he would be shunned by the entire league if he showed he could still play at an elite level regardless of race? I for one do not believe that teams in the NHL, who are in the business of winning at all costs, would ever consider such a thing.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments please.