(if you’re not fluent in French like I am, and you want to know what my title means, there’s a wonderful site called Babelfish on Yahoo. Look it up.)
Last night an unexpected piece of news came across my Twitter feed. Louis Robitaille has decided to retire and has accepted a new position as a head coach for the Valleyfield Braves, a team in the QJAAAHL. It’s a Junior A league based in Quebec, a level below the QMJHL. Per the team’s press release that was all French (via Babelfish), “Louis will be a trainer demanding and rigorous just like the hockey player who he was, he will direct his team efficiently and constant.” If you say so.
Robitaille ends an 8 year pro career that saw him start out in the old United Hockey League, but he spent most of his time in the AHL with Portland, Hershey, Lowell and Albany, with a 1 year hiatus split between Italy and the LNAH in Quebec. He won a Calder Cup with the Bears during the 2005-06 season, along with making his only NHL appearance, 2 games with the Capitals. His final numbers: 24 goals, 53 assists, and 1,759 penalty minutes (AHL stats); no points and 5 penalty minutes with Washington (NHL stats).
Of course, he will mostly be remembered as being the “Roboturtle,” one of the biggest pains in the you-know-where the AHL has seen. Like everyone else, I too shared that opinion, especially after the one game in Albany, while a member of the Bears, he literally crawled on his hands and knees away from a fight with Trevor Gillies. Then as a result of the Devils move from Lowell, he came to Albany, and my first thought was “I have to be nice to him?” At his first Albany appearance (the preseason Fanfest that I could not attend due to work) a friend of mine went right over to Louis and basically called him out for being a turtle. He laughed and admitted that yes he can be one. He knows he’s a pest, he knows what everyone thinks of him, and he embraces the role. He actually became quite a fan favorite during his one season in Albany, always laughing and joking around with everyone at autograph sessions and meet and greets off the ice. And yes the occasional fights he actually did finish off helped (even the ones he clearly pulled a turtle move…and yes there were a few of those). And there were always the 1 or 2 fans in every road arena that would purposely sit by the visiting team entrance just to take verbal shots at him…and he’d always return the favor.
Not only did I get to know him as a player, I also saw him as a person, namely a dad. His 3 year old son Kayden is his world off the ice. Whenever Kayden was visiting, you’d always see him running around the arena with his little Robitaille Devils jersey and his hockey stick. He took him everywhere…on the ice at the Holiday Skate, the Booster Club Bowlathon, and the only extra guest at the Awards Banquet.
Bonne Chance, Louis. Hopefully this career move is a good one for you. Now anyone want to take bets on how soon into his first season he gets tossed for arguing with a ref?