DALLAS — The Dallas Stars lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in a shootout on Friday night at American Airlines Center, but after that 2-1 setback, the main topic on everyone’s minds was the welfare of veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas.
At 36, Robidas or “Robi” as he is known in Stars circles, isn’t the oldest player on the Dallas roster as that honor belongs to veteran winger Ray Whitney who is all of 41. But as Stars fans know, he is currently the longest-tenured Star and along with Trevor Daley is one of the last remaining links to Dallas’ last appearance in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, which happened back in 2008.
So, to see him leave the AAC ice on a stretcher in the second period of Friday’s game was truly disheartening. That’s because No. 3 has been nothing short of a workhorse and a warrior during his entire time in Big D no matter which of the five different Stars head coaches he has skated for since first joining the club in 2002.
And the way the injury went down was also tough to see. That’s because Robidas was trying to do what he does best, the little things that never show up on the stat sheet but definitely contribute to a winning club. “Robi” was trying to prevent Chicago center Jonathan Toews from making either a pass or a shot from the left faceoff circle when he ended up going into the end boards rather violently.
To then see him point at his right leg, knowing that something was amiss immediately was tough for the sellout crowd at the AAC to witness, a group including his family as well as Lindy Ruff and the Stars coaching staff, his teammates, the Chicago players and even us in the leering press.
That’s because No. 3 is not only a favorite among Stars fans and his teammates and rightfully so, but he’s also a go-to guy for us in the press because he can not only deliver a great quote, but with his range of experience in the League, is a guy who has seen a bit of everything, which means he can provide some great perspective on any sort of situation because he’s already been through a similar scenario earlier in his career.
So to see Robidas leave the ice on a stretcher and then to learn he had a fractured leg was tough to hear for the veteran d-man who was taken to a local hospital after the injury.
Following the game, his teammates were understandably subdued when it came to discussing what had happened to one of the more respected voices in the room.
“It’s really tough. We hope he is alright. He is a big part of this team, and a big part of that back end and a pretty big leader,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said.
And Ruff, who has seen his fair share of injuries during his time as both a player and coach in the NHL was equally crestfallen over what had happened to one of his stalwarts at the Dallas blue line.
“It didn’t look good. He’s been playing real well. They (him and Brenden Dillon) have been a big pair for us,” Ruff said. “That was probably one of the only real big negatives. Robi is a battler and he’s really played hard and played well this year for us.”
Of course, there should be more news about Robidas around lunchtime on Saturday when the Stars practice in Frisco. But for a guy who ate up a lot of ice time in the back for Dallas and someone whose contract is up at the end of the year, seeing Stephane Robidas leave the ice the way he did on Friday was tough to see.
However, “Robi” has always been a warrior and a battler as Ruff aptly characterized him and if anyone can make it back before the end of the season, it would be him. But even if he has played his final game in a Stars jersey, that’s how we’ll all remember him, as a warrior, someone who fought for his teammates and for the name on the front of the shirt night in and night out for what seems like forever. But that’s what true role models do, right?