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Mike Robitaille
Mike Robitaille
Defenseman
(ROH bih tigh)
Number: 21
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 195
Shoots: Right
Born: Feb 12, 1948
Birthplace: Midland, ON, Canada
Hometown: Midland, Ontario
Acquired: Traded to Detroit by the New York Rangers with Arnie Brown and Tom Miller for Bruce MacGregor and Larry Brown on February 2, 1971.
Mike Robitaille knew, from early on in his is life, that he wanted a career in hockey. He left school after completing the 8th grade to devote all of his time and energy to the sport.

In the early going, good fortune followed him as a hiked up the ranks to the Kitchener Rangers of the OHA where he played from 1964 to 1968. He was voted a First-Team All-Star during his final campaign with the club. As a member of the New York Rangers' system, he was then sent for a year of seasoning with the Omaha Knights of the CHL. During his second year with the club, he was selected as a First-Team All-Star. His reward was to catch a slight taste at the top, playing four games with the parent Rangers, before heading back to the minors.

By 1970-71, the last of Robitaille's good fortune was spent. During the Rangers' training camp, he broke his ankle, an injury that effectively eclipsed his early-season momentum. In the interim, Brad Park arrived on the Ranger scene, making Robitaille expendable. He was traded to the Detroit Red Wings before season's end. There he played only 23 games and was then passed along to the Buffalo Sabres.

In Buffalo, Robitaille saw some hope for his career. He was paired with the defenseman he respected the most in the NHL, Tim Horton. But the rays of light dimmed when Horton died in a car crash in 1974. Devastated by the loss, Robitaille never recovered as a Sabres.

In late 1974, he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks where he appeared to finally find a home. And he did, for just over a season and a half. But then he began to experience back pain. He reported his difficulty to the club's management. They in turn emphasized how important it was that he continue to play. To help him through the pain, he was given an ample supply of valium to which he soon became addicted. To eventually break the addiction, Robitaille sought the help of a psychiatrist. As such, he was labeled a "head case." As he continued to suffer, the club's management assumed he was faking his symptoms.

But finally, one night, while playing a home game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, he jumped out of the penalty box and heard the crowd yelling. He thought they wanted him to get moving on a breakaway. But the fan reaction was to portend a massive blind-sided hit laid on by the Pens' Dennis Owchar. Robitaille fell heavily to the ice and was eventually diagnosed with a bruised spine at the base of his skull. Still he pressed on until he was no longer able to function.

When he didn't show up for training camp at the start of the next season, the Canucks launched a breech-of-contract suit against the rearguard. Robitaille countered with a suit of his own, maintaining that the Canucks were negligent in not ensuring his safety.

Meanwhile, Robitaille's playing career was finished. He left hockey unable to hold a regular job. He stuck to his guns through the litigation process, however, and in 1981, was rewarded with a $355,000 settlement from the Canucks. The money came just in time as the penniless former defenseman was struggling to catch up on mortgage payments.

In the ensuing years, Robitaille secured enough motor skills to resume a more normal life. He has since worked in community relations and as a broadcaster for Sabres' games.

Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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