We continue celebrating Dallas Stars history this summer as we move closer and closer to their 20th year in DFW with a look at Stephane Robidas
Overview: Robidas, drafted by the Canadiens in the 7th round of the 1995 NHL Draft, took an odd road to becoming Dallas' number one defenseman in the post-Zubov Hicks -decline years. He was claimed in a waiver draft by the Thrashers in 2002, then dealt to the Stars for a 6th round pick. Two lackluster seasons with Dallas later he was traded to the Blackhawks, then played in Europe during the lockout. He'd have stayed overseas if the Stars hadn't called him when play resumed. His importance from that day forward you know well.
Why He's On The List: Perhaps no Dallas Star has been tasked with doing more, with so little, for so long, than Stephane Robidas. Brought in as a depth guy to play with the Zubov's, Boucher's, and Sydor's of the world (and Norstrum for a time), he was a complimentary piece. As the old regime faded and the Grossman's and Daley's advanced, Robidas became the lone rock. He's played the tough minutes and checked the NHL's best, durably, and with nary a complaint while the foundations crumbled around him.
Continued after the jump...
Robidas' game is defined by courage and self sacrifice. He's undersized for the minutes and assignments he gets in this league and it's been shown time and time again that he is among league leaders in hits taken every season. He's been willing to stand in the tough spots and take those hits in order to move the puck. He sacrifices himself by drawing defenders/forecheckers to him to open up ice for others.
Modest offensive totals and a slow start to his career have traditionally hidden Robidas' name from the spotlight but ask anyone who really knows the league and they'll tell you he's one of the most underrated (if not THE most underrated) players in the game and has been for a long time. (See here, here, here, etc)
He's also durable, playing in 542 of 574 possible regular season games since the lockout (.944). He's played through a multitude of facial injuries, often donning the cage for a time most seasons, and has battled foot problems in recent years, but it almost never keeps him out.
His intangibles are not to be overlooked either. He's a leader in the locker room. He stays to talk to the media after the tough losses. He's always available and willing after morning skate, in French or English if you like. He's been tasked with bringing along Trevor Daley, Nicklas Grossmann, Matt Niskanen, MarK Fistric, etc... And held that group together as best he could over the years. The Stars are trying to get him some help as he enters his mid to late 30's, but he'll be counted upon once again this coming season to do the heavy lifting.
Like many others we've discussed this summer Robidas will be remembered fondly, but ultimately a victim of the era in which he played with the Stars on his chest. He hasn't been to the playoffs since 2008 (11 points in 18 games there) and he's the kind of guy who thrives in that situation. Will he finally return as his years wane in Dallas, or would the Stars consider moving him to a contender this season or next?
We'll find out soon enough, but even if he never played another game in a Stars uniform his contributions and self sacrifice to date have him firmly on this list.
One of my favorite Robidas highlights: Raycroft wets the bed a little bit and Robidas pulls his rear out of the fire three times, including a great save on a gaping net. It's the second highlight in this game...