"At some point, we gotta start looking at the mental health of people around us. Not just (the) NHL, but everyone in society and see how can we start getting back to normalcy," Lehner told reporters Wednesday. "Because the problem is gonna be huge, but being lied to us about things changing, to kind of force us to take the vaccine. Unacceptable.
"And to now when we have taken the vaccine to have the excuse of saying, 'Nah, we're not changing because of competitive advantage.' It's outrageous."
Lehner says the NBA was used as an example of how the NHL would ease restrictions for players who get vaccinated. In March, the NBA and NBPA agreed that restrictions would loosen for players who get fully vaccinated, including not needing to quarantine after coming into direct contact with someone who tests positive and being allowed to leave their hotels on the road.
The netminder said the league is waiting for more teams to get vaccinated so that restrictions aren't unfairly lifted for some clubs and not others, leading to a competitive-balance issue.
"That made me go crazy, to be honest. ... We are humans as everyone else," Lehner said. "So, there's a two-fold problem for me here. The first one is we get promised something to take something that not necessarily everyone wanted, so that was a lie, a blatant lie."
"No one thinks about the mental impact, and there are people struggling," he added. "I know people will say, 'Oh, you're millionaires, this and that, you're crying, what about these guys.' We care about that too, man. No matter what people think, this is a society problem. But when government, corporations, NHL, whoever, are taking decisions in terms of these irrelevant things like a competitive edge over the human being, it's not OK, man."
Lehner took to Twitter shortly after speaking to the media to clarify his comments, saying his main point is about remembering the mental health of players.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly pushed back against Lehner's remarks shortly thereafter.
"I respect Robin's views and feelings. It's a tough situation. Having said that, I reject the assertion that any promises were ever made on protocol changes related to player vaccination," Daly wrote in an email to the Las Vegas Review-Journal's David Shoen.
Here are Lehner's full comments:
The 29-year-old has been vocal about his own battle with mental health in the past, including his diagnosis as bipolar.