Defenseman Stephane Robidas hasn’t been wearing the red no-contact jersey as the Dallas Stars resumed practices following the Olympic break, but that doesn’t mean he is close to returning from the broken leg he suffered in late November. He’s made a lot of progress in his recovery, but he still has a ways to go before he can play.
“He’s not ready for physical play,” said Stars assistant coach James Patrick. “His skating has gotten better and better, and he’s way ahead of schedule. I don’t know what his timetable is, but I think he is still weeks away.”
When Robidas broke the leg in a game against Chicago on November 29, the timetable for his return was four to six months. Four months from the time of the injury would be late March. That he’s practicing, and was on the ice for a couple of practices before the Stars headed off on the Olympic break, is impressive and why he appears to be ahead of schedule.
“I am very happy. I didn’t expect to be back before the break, having two practices before the break. I think that was a big step for me mentally,” Robidas said. “I was pretty happy with it, even though I am not 100 percent. The last couple practices I’ve been able to go through every drill. Guys are taking it pretty easy on me, but just to be back in that groove, it’s been really good.”
Robidas broke both his tibia and fibula when his skate got caught in a rut in that game against the Blackhawks. He had surgery the following morning. It’s been a long road to get where he is now, and there is still more work to be done.
“Conditioning is pretty good, but every time I have to stop and start again, it’s the pounding,” Robidas said. “If I glide and skate with the flow, I am fine. But the push – it’s my strong leg – so when I go to start it’s always on that leg. I’d like to push on the other one because it is stronger, but I’ve always been doing that.”
Robidas said he’ll try not to push things, try to read how he feels and listen to the doctors and trainers. He’ll see how practices go in the near future to see if he is ready to ramp up the physical side of things.
“The doctor told me I have to read it and get into it slowly. He said the leg is pretty good right now, it’s pretty strong,” Robidas said. “The callus was forming around the bone and it’s pretty strong right now, but he doesn’t want me to push through something where I have pain. He said I’ve got to listen to my body, so that’s what I’ll do in the next couple weeks. … I can play with pain, but mentally I’ve got to be able to do what I need to do and not be thinking about whether I can do something. It’s a fast game out there.”
Prior to the break there was talk of Robidas possibly returning by the middle of March, a couple weeks earlier than expected. For now, Robidas said he doesn’t want to set a timetable. He watched Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, who is trying to comeback from a broken leg, set a return date and then be disappointed when he couldn’t meet it.
“I don’t want to set a goal,” Robidas said. “I saw what Stamkos went through. He set a goal to come back in late January and play in the Olympics, and it didn’t happen. It’s devastating when you put a lot of pressure on yourself to do this or do that. He did the right thing. You’ve got to listen to your body at one point, and that’s where I am right now. Listen to the trainers, strength coach and the doctors and what they say. I’ll go from there.”
While Robidas is preaching patience, he is still itching to get back and help the Stars push for a playoff spot. And the Stars are looking forward to his return.
“He just strengthens you,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “First of all, he’s a great presence in the room. He was one of our top three defensemen before he got injured. He’s a great asset to have. We’re excited about him coming back. We want to be cautious, too. He’s still a got a little more time to heal, but it’s great to see the track he is on.”
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.