This is not how Stephane Robidas wanted his season to end.
The Anaheim Ducks defenseman and former Dallas Stars stalwart had already battled his way back from one broken leg this season, a horrific fracture of his tibia and fibula down near his ankle in late November. He was stretchered off the ice at the time, only to head into emergency surgery later that night.
Three days later, he was back at the team practice facility and two months later, he was skating again. He rehabbed his 36-year-old bones to come back from a 4-6 month injury in just over three months. And he and Jim Nill both read the writing on the wall, Robidas' of his time with the Stars coming to an end, Nill of Robidas' desire to win a Stanley Cup, and made a trade that was less about hockey returns and more about doing right by good people.
Yeah, it was going to be weird for Stars fans to see him wearing orange and that odd No. 19 in the first round. It was going to be even weirder rooting against him, or at least for his team to fail, after all the ways he laid his body on the line for this franchise.
But no one wanted this. Early in the second period, Ryan Garbutt tried to dive for a puck in the offensive zone and ended up landing on Robidas' surgically repaired right leg. The result is another fracture, this one slightly above the original break.
The video is below, and while not as graphic as, say, Steven Stamkos' break earlier this season, you can definitely see the moment it snaps.
It was a very nice gesture from the sold-out American Airlines Center to chant Robidas' name as he was helped down the tunnel, a classy move for a man who epitomized class with the organization in his decade in Dallas. There are hockey rivalries and then there are all-around good guys, and Robidas is firmly among the best guys in the game.
He's also unquestionably one of the toughest, which is why it was so hard to watch this happen to him -- again.
This was the man who broke his nose in Game 5 against (ironically) the Ducks in 2008 by taking a clearing attempt off his already well-beaten face, stuffed some gauze up there to stop the bleeding, threw a cage on and returned. This was the man who popped up from hits that would have ground lesser players into powder. This was a man who once rode a Shark, piggyback style. This was the man who was so tough he once came back to play with a broken jaw.
This whole situation is even worse because Robidas is a free agent this summer. While there will certainly be some interest given that his leg should be ready to go again by September training camp, it's a big question mark the now 37-year-old didn't need hanging over him come this summer.
From a series perspective, it's a huge loss for the Ducks, creating a hole on their blue line in both talent and heart. But from a human perspective, it's a terrible twist of fortune for Robidas, and it tugs at the heartstrings of all the Stars faithful and even the players.
"It’s obviously upsetting. Steph is a warrior," said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley. "We want to beat them with Robi in there. It’s upsetting."
Robidas is reportedly scheduled for surgery in Dallas today with the same doctor who fixed his leg earlier this season.
Get well soon, Robi. You may be on the other side in this series, but Stars fans will never forget the sacrifices you made for this team while you were here. Some things are bigger than hockey.
Wishing you the speediest of recoveries, old friend.