June 26, 2012
Lehner wants to stick with Sens
By DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - This is where Robin Lehner wants to be. Not in Binghamton. Not with another NHL organization.
He wants to play for the NHL's Senators.
"You've got to believe it's realistic," the 20-year-old Swedish goalie said at Tuesday's opening of the team's development camp when asked if he thought he could about crack the roster at the position next season when two others -- Craig Anderson and Ben Bishop -- have the one-way contracts he does not hold.
"I'm trying to prepare myself as good as I can now, to get a spot. You never know. You go for it and see what happens. I'm feeling good. I'm looking forward to (camp) and I'm excited."
Lehner reported to the six-day camp in mid-season form.
"He's very calm, very prepared, he's lost weight, he's leaner, quicker, (he has) better agility," said Randy Lee, the team's director of player development. "(There's a) real big improvement. He's really taken it seriously."
To have a chance in this fight, he'll have to be sharp from the start of main camp in the fall.
Lehner took a step backward this past season after leading the Binghamton Senators to the Calder Cup in the spring of 2011. He knows there were flaws in his game, that there are improvements he needs to make. One is his consistency, his focus.
When he did get called up to Ottawa, he showed he can play at the NHL level. In five games, he had a 2.01 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage. He had three wins, including one against the Bruins in Boston.
But his stint ended when the Senators acquired Bishop to fill in for the injured Anderson. Back in Bingo, Lehner finished the season with a 3.26 GAA and .907 save percentage.
The B-Sens weren't as good as they had been in winning the championship, granted, but neither was Lehner.
"It's a marathon, not a sprint," the former second-round pick acknowledged. "They're doing the best they think, for me. They're not trying to go against me. They're trying to develop me as good as they want. I'm an asset to them. They want me to do as good as possible. You've got to trust them, too. They've got a lot of hockey experience in this organization. I'm 20, going on 21. I don't know that much. I'm just eager to play, eager to show myself."
Lehner is aware of the trade rumours that mention his name. He said he doesn't want to go anywhere.
"When I'm in Sweden during the summer, of course you're trying to see what happens," said Lehner. "But I'm confident, I'm not too nervous. I really like this organization. I don't want to leave this organization. Whatever it takes. I don't think it's going to happen. That's my gut feeling. I don't see it happening. If it would, it would. I'm an asset and they're going to use me as best they can."
The competition for spots on the main team will include a half-dozen players on the Sensplex surface this week.
"When they see how much guys have improved in the offseason, it really gives (other) guys a little jolt about how hard they have to work," said Lee. "We've made it very clear. (GM) Bryan (Murray) has told guys that if you work hard, you've got a chance for spots. We've told them, this is the biggest talent pool we've ever had in 17 years.
"It's nice because they're a good group. They really want to do it and they really want to be Senators."
None of them want it more than Lehner, who was named the hardest-working player at his first development camp and -- barring any trades -- will be the underdog in a battle with Bishop for the backup job in September.