"It not working out in Long Island had nothing to do with me," Lehner said on Monday, according to Newsday's Andrew Gross. "I never walked away from anything."
Following a career-best season, Lehner was looking for a long-term commitment from the Islanders. But the Swede says the team moved on from him before he was able to continue negations.
"We came down to shorter term, and it was a little bit off in money, and it was kind of an ultimatum put in front of me," Lehner said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times' Andrew Pope. "I took a couple of days to think about it, and when I came back and wanted to make something work, they already went for another goalie."
The 27-year-old posted a 2.13 goals against average and a .930 save percentage over 46 games with the Islanders last season, the best statistical year of his career.
With the one-year deal, Lehner is now betting on himself to repeat that success.
"I don’t see it as a gamble at all. It’s only a gamble if you don’t believe you’re going to be able to perform. I know what I can do, I’ve proven what I can do," Lehner said, according to The Athletic's Mark Lazerus.
Lehner joins Corey Crawford in the Blackhawks' crease, and it's likely the pair will split time next season.