The big story from Saturday night should have been the Flyers’ 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals. However, the hockey community was buzzing after Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner made some pretty gargantuan accusations about the Flyers and their medical practices.
Minutes after the Flyers’ first victory of the preseason, Lehner took to Twitter to accuse the Flyers of giving benzodiazepines (benzos) and Ambien — highly addictive drugs used to treat anxiety and insomnia — to its players.
He then demanded that the Flyers fire head coach Alain Vigneault.
Vigneault spoke to the media after Monday morning’s practice to clear the air regarding Lehner’s allegations.
“I’ve been coaching a few years and I am tough, I am demanding, but I care about my players. I want their best,” said Vigneault. “Through the years probably there are some guys that have liked me, some guys maybe a little bit less, but I’ve done it with the best intention, with respect.”
Vigneault also sharply denied Lehner’s claim that he is in any way involved with distributing pills to his players. “I don’t need another income,” he said. “I have no idea where that comes from. I don’t know what else to say. I have no idea.”
ESPN’s Emily Kaplan reported Monday morning that Lehner was not accusing Vigneault of directly distributing pills to his players. Instead, he was criticizing the way in which Vigneault treats his players.
Interestingly, Lehner has never been coached by Vigneault in his decade-long NHL career.
James van Riemsdyk, the Flyers’ NHLPA representative, also commented on Lehner’s remarks and how players are educated about medical procedures across the league.
“We play a violent, physical game so there’s gonna be issues where you need some things to help play and help with different issues, whether it’s surgeries or whatever. So obviously there’s things where these things can be very useful, and now we get educated a lot on the long-term effects and effects that some of these things can have, so I think it’s important to be informed as a player so you know when you’re in these positions where you may need something to help you know exactly what you’re dealing with.”
At this time, there is no substantial evidence backing up Lehner’s allegations. However, he did speak with the NHLPA Sunday regarding the distribution of highly addictive drugs to players. This is a developing situation and we will update as necessary.