By Kyle Shohara
The Ducks had a new face on the ice with them this afternoon at Honda Center, as they got to work following a tough shootout loss to Montreal.
Defenseman Stephane Robidas, once an adversary and now a teammate, practiced with the Ducks for the first time since being acquired from the Dallas Stars on Tuesday for a fourth-round selection (acquired from Washington for Dustin Penner) in the 2014 NHL Draft.
The veteran blueliner, now 37 years of age, has earned 246 points (55g/191a) with a +5 rating and 671 penalty minutes in 871 career NHL games with Montreal, Dallas and Chicago. A 2009 NHL All-Star, Robidas set career highs in goals (10), assists (31), points (41) while appearing in all 82 games for the second time in his career in 2009-10. The 5-11, 190-pound defenseman has also appeared in 44 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, earning 15 points (3g/12a) with 42 penalty minutes.
Robidas admits it was “awkward” to wear a Ducks jersey after spending the majority of his career in various shades of green, but joining the NHL’s best team has him chomping at the bit.
“I’m happy to be here,” he said. “Now I can move on and get going, and hopefully we go for that Cup. I’m very excited to be a Duck.”
Robidas is three-and-a-half months removed from a gruesome leg injury on November 29, in which he broke his tibia and fibula. He underwent surgery soon after, one that required rods and screws to repair the break. Though at the time he thought his career might be over, Robidas says he’s still on schedule for a March 14 return date.
“When I started skating again, in my mind, it was March 14 when I wanted to come back,” he said. “I’m not sure exactly when it’s going to be, but it feels better and better. I can crossover and skate backwards. The stops and starts, which is what I was lacking two weeks ago, are much better.”
Robidas says he’ll have an appointment at the doctor’s office tomorrow to go through a few more tests and x-rays.
“I’m feeling really good,” he said. “Actually, this morning I was a little afraid because I traveled early this morning. Sometimes, with planes, my leg swells up. I didn’t have that much time before practice to get all the exercise that I usually do, but I felt really good on the ice.”
It’s no secret Robidas and Corey Perry had their fair share of heated moments on the ice. Robidas, known for his snarl and physical play, was often matched up with Perry whenever he was on the ice, and the two dropped the gloves last season in Dallas.
But that’s all in the past, and Robidas says Perry came up and shook his hand before practice.
“It’s all good,” he said with a laugh. “He’s a competitor and a great player. It wasn’t easy playing against him, and I’m just happy I don’t need to watch him anymore.”
‘HE BRINGS STANLEY CUP EXPERIENCE’
Head coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t mince words when asked what it was like having to play against Robidas.
“We know from experience that we hated playing against him,” Boudreau said. “He would be in Perry’s face all night long. He can be a real agitator as well as a real good player. It seems like a good fit come playoff time. He brings Stanley Cup experience.”
Being a right-handed shooting defenseman also gives Boudreau the flexibility to work on left- and right-handed defensive pairings.
“I’m big into the righties and lefties,” he said. “Now, when Sami [Vatanen] gets healthy, we’ll have three right-handed defensemen and six left-handed defensemen. At least we’ll have a complement of right-handed defensemen.”
Of Vatanen, Boudreau offered this update: “He has a little tweak. He’ll be healthy in two weeks. At that point, we don’t know whether he’ll be here or go back to Norfolk.”
DUCKS RECALL RAKELL
Earlier today, the Ducks recalled center Rickard Rakell from the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League. Rakell was on the ice for practice, but whether he plays tomorrow remains to be seen.
At the time of his recall, Rakell co-led the Admirals in points, assists and plus/minus, ranked second in power-play goals (8) and tied for second in goals.