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03/06/2014

The Stars trade away one of the very best you never knew

42512-stephane-robidas-goutera-chaque-instantBecause the team has fallen deeper into irrelevance over the last five years you either did not know, or care to know, Stephane Robidas. It is a shame that this man went so unnoticed for so long in this town.

When you buy a hockey sweater for your kid, this is the type of person whose name you want on the back.

He was a defenseman with the Dallas Stars who was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for a fourth round pick  on Tuesday. This was a case of Stars GM Jim Nill doing the right thing by the player, and the team.

Robidas is going to be a free agent after the season, and he deserved a shot to win. He suffered a broken leg earlier on Nov. 29, 2013. He has not played since, but there is a good chance he will be cleared to play in a few weeks. He can help a contender, which the are the Ducks.

Few athletes cared as much about his team, teammates, and winning as much as Robidas. He is a pro’s pro. All you had to do was look at the man’s face to know the check was not the priority.

Acquiring Robidas for future considerations from Atlanta in 2002 was arguably the finest move then Stars’ general manager Doug Armstrong made in his tenure with the club. He acquired an All-Star for nothing.

When Robidas arrived to the Dallas Stars, his career was thought to be pretty much dead. His former teams - Montreal and Atlanta - had simply given up. The Stars were taking a flyer on a guy that previously had been moderately regarded.

Even before the lockout ended in 2005, and the NHL changed the rules, Robidas demonstrated he could play. When the rules changed, he thrived. He wound up on an All-Star team in '09, and just missed being invited to be a part of the Canadian Olympic team in 2010.

Perhaps because of his size (5-11, 196), it was hard to envision he could be as tough as he is. He is not a brawler, but no one could have sacrificed his body, or face, any more than Robidas. In a game in Detroit, he once fought Sean Avery to a draw.

Ultimately, what got Robidas is what got every other veteran on the Stars – they weren’t winning. No playoffs since 2008 means locally no one could appreciate this man the way he deserved.

 A man who was once dumbped by the Canadiens and Thrashers has lasted 16 seasons in the NHL and maybe now he can enjoy the Cup run, and some attention, he deserves.

Twitter @MacEngelProf

tengel@star-telegram.com

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