Lehner treating Senators like 'any other team'

by Rob Poirier (@RobFeature)

BUFFALO, NY - As we were funneled into the Buffalo Sabres' dressing room this morning, it was difficult to ignore the deeply unsettling atmosphere. The lights had been dimmed. The air smelled of incense. A creepy Gregorian chant blared from a stereo in the corner. In other words, it was business as usual for Robin Lehner.

In Ottawa, Lehner had come to be known more for his quick temper, sinister glare, and love of heavy metal music than for his play, and after stagnating in a backup role, the Senators finally decided to part ways with the young goaltender this past summer, dealing him to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a first-round pick. But fate has a twisted sense of humor, and tonight, Lehner's new team and his old will open their respective seasons against one another.

It was in preparation of this all-important game that Lehner was drawing a large pentagram on the dressing room floor when we entered. We approached him and began asking our questions.

"Robin, over here!" one of us shouted. "Robin, after the injury you suffered last year, are you just looking to get out there and get back into the rhythm of playing again?"

"For sure," Lehner replied. He had begun arranging candles along the outer edge of the pentagram. "I'm excited to get a fresh start and I'm really happy to get a chance to do that here in Buffalo."

"Robin," another reporter began. "How do you think it's going to feel facing your old teammates tonight?"

"I'm trying not to think about them," Lehner said, taking a seat at the center of the pentagram and opening a dusty, old book. "I just want to treat them like any other team."

"Do you feel like you have something to prove to the folks in Ottawa, Robin?"

"Not at all," Lehner answered. He had taken out what I can only assume was a very realistic, skull-shaped goblet and begun drinking from it. Crimson fluid spilled from the corners of his mouth. "You guys have blown things out of proportion. I don't have any ill will for anyone in their organization. That should be obvious."

"Robin," I called over the crowd. "Any words for Keshia Chante?"

But Lehner didn't answer. He had finished lighting his candles and was reading from the old book in front of him. His voice was low. Monotone. His Latin surprisingly good. As he read, his eyes rolled back in his head.

@Gerv_Rebrand captured this image of Lehner's typical pre-game routine
"Robin isn't here," a security guard explained in a trembling voice as he ushered us out. "Robin is gone."

The Senators face the Sabres tonight at 7 o'clock, but those of you expecting fireworks or bad blood will likely be disappointed. For Robin Lehner, this is just another run-of-the-mill game.

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