The three headed monster is finally two-pronged. And no, I’m not referring to Robin Lehner’s goatee.
Today the Senators announced that they had returned Lehner back to their AHL affiliate in Binghamton. The decision to move the lauded prospect can hardly be categorized as a surprise. Given Ben Bishop’s contractual situation – a one-way deal that would necessitate putting him through waivers to send him to the AHL – the flexibility that Lehner’s two-way contract affords the organization two things: 1) an opportunity to maximize the value for either Bishop or number one starter Craig Anderson; and 2) an opportunity for Lehner to continue playing and develop instead of languishing on Ottawa’s bench.
It’s a business decision that even Lehner is cognizant of.
Lehner says it's disappointing to be sent down but understands the process. He's looking forward to the AHL All Star game. #Sens— Steve Lloyd (@Steve_Lloyd) January 22, 2013
Lehner on going back to AHL: "It's been going pretty good..part of the process...politics involved...I'm happy and I'll keep on going" #Sens— Steve Lloyd (@Steve_Lloyd) January 22, 2013
Although the use of the word ‘politics’ is unfortunate and could be portrayed as unseemly, you can’t fault him for being honest. On the other hand, he should recognize that the organization has rewarded his first half of play in the AHL. With Anderson’s assertion that he was ready to go for opening night, the decision to keep Bishop around was a foregone conclusion. They did not have to bring Lehner to Winnipeg and allowing him to dress as the backup and collect his NHL salary.
There’s no mistaking that Lehner is the future. I just hope he continues to work hard and perform at a high enough level to let the organization reward him in the greatest way – by parlaying a goaltender and letting him become ‘the man’ in the nation’s capital.