Robidas and his family planned a new house to be built on the lake at Saint-Denis-de-Brompton, a small township in Eastern Quebec not far from Sherbrooke.
“We just moved into the new house,” Robidas said via phone from his new digs. “We actually got in on June 9, but the outside and the landscape was not done because of the rain. They finished around July 2 and we are very happy with it.”
And just as fast as he moved in, Robidas and his family are coming back to Texas in two weeks for an important date as their son Justin begins kindergarten this year.
“Justin’s our first one to start school and it is exciting,” he said. “I think he’s excited too. It will be good for him. We’re looking forward to coming back.”
Robidas has much to look forward to upon returning to Dallas. Last season was a big one for him, as he stepped up and solidified himself as a top-6 defenseman on the Stars and an important cog on the blueline.
“The coaching staff gave me the opportunity to play in different situations last year and I give them a lot of credit for showing the faith in me,” Robidas said. “Some of the injuries we had on D with Zubov and Boucher out for a good part of the year were hard. We had a really young defensive group because of it and I felt like I could bring a little bit of leadership because I was the second oldest one after Norstom after those injuries.
“Obviously playing the minutes and getting the chance to play on the power play with the talent we have on the roster was big and also on the PK, it was just nice for me to participate a little more. It was a perfect storm for me. Sometimes when stuff like that happens, someone has to step up and as the whole defensive group, including the young guys, stepped up their game we were able to accomplish a lot as a team.”
Robidas said he has spoken with several of his teammates recently and all are champing at the bit to get back to playing hockey.
“Last year was great, but obviously we came up short of our goal,” he said. “But it is a step in the right direction. Going into this season, we know what we can do and we know we can compete against teams like Detroit and San Jose and Anaheim and that’s what we have to focus on. We want to try and make it further and bring the big trophy back to Dallas.”
Robidas is enjoying his new role as a leader and remembers what it was like to have important role models on the team help show the way when he broke in with the Canadiens.
“My first year in Montreal, I got a chance to play with Eric Weinrich,” Robidas said. “He was 34 at the time and he was basically the leader on our defense. He was really good to me and took me under his wing, both outside the rink and on the ice. I was his D partner and I learned a lot from him. After coming to Dallas, we had Hathcer, Zubov, Matvichuk and Sydor. You can learn so much by simply practicing or being around them. I think a guy like Matti Norstrom really helped me too. Not as much last year because of the injuries but when we first got him, I was paired with him and I think he was a good veteran defenseman who knows the game. He’s not flashy but he is truly effective in what he is doing out there. He was a great role model for me by his presence outside the room and on the ice too.”
Of course Robidas has stayed in shape over the summer to be ready for camp.
“You have to stay in shape; that’s part of the game,” he said. “I took a bigger break at the end of the season because I had surgery on my nose. I started later than I usually do. But everything has been going well. I’ve been pretty serious about it.”
The surgery on his nose was more out of a need for performance. Robidas broke his nose (again) in the playoffs and the cumulative damage inside was starting to take its toll.
“I couldn’t really breathe well after I broke my nose again in the playoffs,” Robidas said. “I went for surgery – not to look better – but for my health, especially as a professional athlete. Obviously being able to breathe in our sport is very important. In the long run this surgery should really help me and improve my performance on the ice.”
Robidas said the surgery took about three and a half hours and included adding some plates in his nose and adding some cartilage from his ear. The doctors also cleaned out all the scar tissue and basically had to re-break the bone and put a silicone tube to make it straight.
“My nose is a lot straighter,” he said. “I don’t have a small nose; I’ll never have a small nose unless I go for a bigger surgery. “
The end result is hopefully a more productive Robidas. He stepped up last season and wants to do even more this season.
“I’ve been feeling really, really good. I’ve been working out a lot. I haven’t done a bunch of cardio yet but I’ve been feeling good. It’s a good sign.”
A good sign that he is again going to be a very important cog for the Dallas Stars in 2008-09.