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Robin Lehner asks peers to support Kyle Beach: ‘I wish more people step up and fight’

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TORONTO – Robin Lehner won’t back down from an uncomfortable truth or a systematic tornado.

Honestly, the goaltender who has bipolar disorder says, it isn’t easy for him to be NHL players’ flagbearer for justice.

To step to a podium sweaty and exhausted and speak up for his and future generations after getting shelled 4-0 by a suddenly woke Toronto Maple Leafs offence.

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To answer two questions about a lopsided loss and eight more about sexual abuse and cultural change and player-union-league relations in the wake of Kyle Beach’s brave bombshell.

To be a vigilant voice in a culture that favours the safe cliché.

“You guys are asking me [questions], and honestly it’s not that comfortable for me because I’m trying to focus on winning the hockey games too,” Lehner exhaled Tuesday night.

“But some things are bigger than winning.”

Few players are bigger than Lehner.

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Literally, sure. The imposing Swede’s six-foot-four, 250-pound frame leaves little net to pick.

But we’re talking about the size of Lehner’s heart.

“Some things are bigger than winning.”

What other active player got on the horn with Beach shortly after seeing the former prospect put his real name to the lawsuit and spill his pain to the world?

“An emotional call. I commended him a lot. He’s changing people’s lives by the bravery of speaking out. I just want to be there for him and support him through this, and I think the majority of players I’ve talked to are all on the same page,” Lehner said.

“At the end of the day, people need to be held accountable that knew.… It’s part of healing, you know, getting some justice. And that’s what we all want.”

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Moments after enduring 60 high-danger minutes under the crosshairs of Auston Matthews & Co., Lehner pointed the sights at his fellow players.

Hockey players should know better than most: There’s strength in numbers.

Even prior to the public revelation of the Chicago Blackhawks’ scandal, Lehner, you may recall, had been meeting with the NHL and the Players’ Association to discuss how the league could better deal with mental health, prescription medicine and other sensitive issues.

Those talks, Lehner says, have been positive. He believes everyone’s heart is in the right place.

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And yet, Lehner doesn’t want his voice to be the only one.

Surely the goalie would be heartened to learn that, at the behest of captain Patrice Bergeron and head coach Bruce Cassidy, the entire Boston Bruins sat and watched Rick Westhead’s conversation with Beach together.

Maybe the goalie would be a touch disheartened, as we were, to find out that many NHLers still haven’t watched that interview.

“I encourage more teams to just talk about it and make sure that we’re a part of it, so that this doesn’t happen again. It’s not just on the NHLPA or NHL. All players need to take this seriously if you want change and culture change,” Lehner challenged.

“Honestly, it’s extremely tough for me to do [talk about] it. But, you know, sometimes my principles and how I feel take over. But at the end of the day, I just want more players to — whatever [the issue] is — take a stand. Because we, as players, can bring change as much as anyone else.

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“Again, it’s difficult for me, and I wish more people step up and fight. Because it’s for our kids, hopefully my kids, a lot of players’ kids. We want them to succeed in playing in this league. We want hockey and the NHL to be as good as possible.”

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A baby step toward that goal took place Monday, as about 80 active players (roughly 10 per cent of the union) hopped on a PA conference call to discuss how Beach’s complaint slipped through the cracks and how to make certain such abhorrent neglect never happens again.

Lehner declined to dive into specifics of the call. And with some in the industry calling for the heads of Gary Bettman and/or Donald Fehr, Lehner maintains he has no interest in finger-pointing or trying to get men fired.

“Everything I’m doing is for Kyle Beach. He hasn’t been given the benefit of the doubt for a long time,” Lehner said. “We got a guy that hasn’t been heard for 10 years. He needs to get the benefit of the doubt this time. We need to do that properly.”

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As difficult as these conversations are, Lehner always seems up for them.

The 12-year veteran (and onetime Blackhawk) understands that no two NHLers’ experiences are alike, though, and a class divide must be bridged if 800 or so players are to form a united front.

Lehner wants people to realize that, depending on the organization, fringe players live a much different life than the superstars. But that doesn’t mean we should rush to blame hockey’s silent stars, he clarifies.

“It’s unfair to put it on the star players, too, that they don’t speak up enough. Because to be quite honest, from what I’ve seen, they don’t see a lot of the things that need to change. So, they get different treatment,” Lehner said.

“I encourage everyone to talk to each other and have conversations. And we need to be a part of it. If we talk about culture, whatever, it needs to come from the players. Honestly, everyone needs to talk about it.”

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Corey Kluber Fully Embraces His New Team

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(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

 

Corey Kluber, one of the Boston Red Sox‘s signings for the upcoming season, has a long-standing reputation of being a baseball gentleman, a professional in all the sense of the word.

Not everybody can play for the Cleveland Guardians, the New York Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Red Sox and still enjoy the love and respect of fans of all those franchises.

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Those are all American League contenders and have been for the better part of the last decade.

Yet everybody respects Kluber because of the way he approaches the game, like a pro: you won’t find him badmouthing a team or a fanbase.

The 36-year-old veteran is, however, enjoying his still brief time as a member of the Red Sox.

He has updated his Twitter account to include the team on his profile.

His profile picture shows him with a Red Sox hat and the letters “K-L-U-B-E-R”, but with the same art and graphic identity as the franchise that now employs him.

It actually looks very, very cool.

Kluber finally pitched something close to a full workload last season with the Rays.

He logged 164 innings and posted a 4.34 ERA that may not look so sexy, but when you compare it to his 3.57 Fielding Independent Pitching, or FIP, you know he was much better than his ERA.

A former two-time Cy Young award winner with plenty of postseason experience, Kluber is still looking for that first World Series ring.

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The Red Sox are not really favored to win it all this year, but stranger things have happened in baseball.

The post Corey Kluber Fully Embraces His New Team appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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The Timberwolves Are Now Back On Track

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The Minnesota Timberwolves had a dominant performance over the top-seeded Denver Nuggets on Sunday, beating that team 128-98.

It was an impressive showing for multiple reasons.

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But it was made even more impressive when you look at Minnesota’s recent track record.

The Timberwolves have won seven of their last ten games and have beaten each of the top three teams in the West during that time.

To make that record even better, they had the best defensive rating in the league during the span of time.

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The Timberwolves are starting to finally look like the team fans were expecting in the summer.

As you recall, they rocked the entire NBA world in the offseason when they acquired Rudy Gobert from the Utah Jazz.

There was talk of the Timberwolves being the best team in the West since Gobert was joining players like D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, and others.

But the team has been shaky throughout the season, suffering multiple losses that seemed avoidable.

Perhaps they just needed time to get their act together and figure out how to play in sync.

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On Sunday night, there were six players who scored in double digits, including Gobert, Russell, and Edwards.

Before that big victory, the Timberwolves also defeated the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies, and others.

That certainly looks like a team that has its sights set on the top of the Western Conference.

Sure enough, Minnesota has now climbed to 7th place in their conference, which is much better than where they were just a few weeks ago.

Coming up for the Timberwolves are tough competitions against the Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Grizzlies, and Dallas Mavericks.

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How many more big wins can they achieve?

The post The Timberwolves Are Now Back On Track appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Tyler O’Neill Is Ready To Go For 2023

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(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

 

Tyler O’Neill burst onto the scene with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2021 and secured the starting left field job.

He put together a 34-home run season and was set to be a key contributor for the team in 2022.

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Unfortunately, injuries took their toll on the Cardinals star.

The slugger hit the injured list three times during the 2022 season and was limited to just 96 games.

However, O’Neill says he feels stronger heading into the 2023 season and is preparing to bounce back from a year in which he hit just .228.

The 27-year-old spoke with MLB Network radio on Monday to discuss his preparation and plans for the 2023 season.

O’Neill talked a lot about his offseason work.

He revealed that he had been in St. Louis for much of the offseason working with coaches to perfect his swing.

He also talked about a more intense training routine he has been following this winter and how he has gotten back to doing some heavy lifting as the season approaches.

The slugger and two-time Gold Glove Award winner expressed confidence that his offseason routine will ultimately pay dividends, even going as far as to say his training regimen had gone to “a whole new level.”

This should be encouraging for Cardinals fans to hear.

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Outside of adding Willson Contreras, the team hasn’t made any other significant moves, instead putting their faith in some of their internal options, such as O’Neill.

But if O’Neill is back to where he was in 2021, the Cardinals could have a very dangerous lineup.

The post Tyler O’Neill Is Ready To Go For 2023 appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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