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Lehner takes the hit for 'half-Hollywood movie'

Here's the scene:

Robin Lehner allows three goals to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 10-minute span in the second period, giving up the lead the Buffalo Sabres worked so hard to build in the first period. Coach Dan Bylsma pulls Lehner, who skates to the bench, angry and frustrated, spiking his helmet before taking a seat.

Cut back to video of Lehner earlier in the game, skating to the bench during a timeout. He sees a woman making a FaceTime phone call with her son and he waves.

Unleash social media fury.

Thursday afternoon, Lehner addressed the sequence of events that happened Tuesday night in the Sabres 4-3 loss to the Leafs in the Air Canada Centre.

The goaltender takes responsibility for his actions, which were a bit too aggressive in a public venue. But he also notes that since it all happened in Toronto, it was bound to blow up into a big deal.

"We all know that and it’s fine," Lehner said when asked if the buzz was because it happened in the hockey media fishbowl of Toronto.

"I take responsibility. I don’t want to do the whole sequence of things that they built up to the little half-Hollywood movie that they clipped together. I understand where it’s coming from. It’s all entertainment to them but it’s a real-life reaction for me and I accept the responsibility of it."

The first thing to hit the social media airwaves were images of Lehner looking angrily at the Sabres bench then slamming his helmet. Toronto media reported he was yelling at Bylsma.

This is how the incident played out for Lehner:

"I got mad and yeah, I let in three goals in 10 minutes. Our team didn’t play the way we wanted," Lehner said. "I let in a bad one. I wanted to stay in. I’m a competitive guy and you know I come over to the bench and people are putting up like I’m staring my coach down and this and that.

"I get mad. ... I didn’t have a hallway to go down. I had a bench to go and sit on. I asked my coach why. And he responded, ‘We needed a change.’ It happens but you look through the Toronto clip of things and commentators don’t know what they’re talking about. I understand. They’re saying I’m taking selfies. I mean that’s not a selfie. I guess when you get older you don’t really keep up with the social media thing and it’s all good. I’ll take the responsibility. People can think what they want. You know what, I am who I am."

Ah yes, the selfies. It wasn't a selfie, but a wave to fan sitting next to the Sabres bench who was FaceTiming her son. Turns out it was Naomi Parness, a former reporter for CTV News in Toronto who later tweeted she was talking with her son who was home sick.

Lehner said of that clip: "It’s this mom with a 5-year-old kid waving in his pajamas all happy and you know what, I’m going to wave back."

"I accept the fact that it looks bad but it doesn’t affect my game," Lehner said.

Lehner also said he and Bylsma talked afterward about the decision to pull him out of Tuesday's game in Toronto.

"He said what he thinks and I totally respect everything he thinks. He’s our coach," Lehner said. "I don’t want to portray this organization like that. Again, the team needs something else. I’m not helping the team by showing my emotions and I’ve got to learn from it ... but at the end of the day I represent this organization, which I really like and put a lot of time and a lot of effort into this team, and I really like this team.

"I’ll make adjustments but at the same time it’s hypocritical to apologize for who you are. I’m a competitive guy who doesn’t want to get out of the net. I don’t want to leave the net. I want to sink with the ship or be able to stand in there and come back."

It was the first time this season Bylsma pulled the goaltender for performance. The game was Lehner's 29th start. He has a 10-12-5 record, after getting a no-decision Tuesday, with a 2.54 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.

"I don't know of any goalie that likes to get pulled," Bylsma said Thursday afternoon. "It's part of playing the position but it's not something any goalie likes to have happen. And Robin wasn't happy. He and I have talked about it. We're moving forward."

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