After playing just three games in the National Hockey League as a rookie at the age of 32, grinder, fighter, and Providence Bruin legend Bobby Robins has hung up his skates after suffering a blow to the head in his very first NHL game last October.
Mark Divver of the Providence Journal reported on the story, and the always-articulate Robins stated bluntly, "I'm a free agent in life."
Hockey is what I know. It’s what I do. But after getting my head banged up like that, it was -- no pun intended -- a no-brainer for me... I couldn’t do it anymore. After the lowest points that I experienced, to where I am now, where I feel like myself again, there was no way I was ever going to risk getting hit in the head again or going through that again.
The UMass Lowell alum played a total of 282 games in the AHL, about two-thirds of which were spent inside the Dunkin Donuts Center after joining the team via trade in 2011. His AHL career stat line reads 28-37-59, with a whopping 833 penalty minutes. And that doesn't count the postseason, where Robins racked up an additional 21 games, 2 goals, 1 assist, and 99 penalty minutes. He won the AHL's Most Penalized Player award in 2012-13 for having 316 PIM.
There was much debate at the start of last season after Robins was brought up to the NHL as seemingly Shawn Thornton's replacement. But after 3 games with Boston, 0 points and 14 PIMs, Robins was designated back to Providence. He went on to play just two games with the P-Bruins in 2014-15, before sitting out the remainder of the season with the post-concussion symptoms that ultimately caused him move on from hockey.
It’s almost like I got a new lease on life. One chapter ended – not the way I expected it to end. But I think everything that happens, there’s a bigger picture going on. In the end, it made me stronger and I found out a lot about myself, not just as a hockey player but as a human being.
Robins will still have a bright future ahead of him. His poetry is still hosted on his website, and he'll continue to be active on Twitter. He's known for a long while what his career path possibly could lead to, and has always been cognizant of the risks such a lifestyle could create. In an Ask a P-Bruin post back in 2012, Robins wrote for us "I also know that if the time ever comes that my body and brain are telling me to stop doing this, I will have the strength to walk away and pursue something else. If I ever take some serious damage to my head, I will know it is time to stop all of this."
So all the best wishes and a stick-tap salute to new free agent, and one of the most popular players in Providence Bruin history.