Bobby Robins has become one of the most popular players for the Providence Bruins. The journeyman right-winger, who will turn 33 just nine days after the start of the 2014-15 NHL regular season, is as close as he’s ever been to playing out his dream of being called an NHL hockey player.
Tracing his sojourn through the last fourteen years has seen him suit up with the Great Falls Americans (AWHL), Tri-City Storm (USHL), UMass-Lowell River Hawks (Hockey East – NCAA), Binghamton Senators (AHL), Elmira Jackals (ECHL), Rochester Americans (AHL), Albany River Rats (AHL), Syracuse Crunch (AHL), Belfast Giants (EIHL), Jesenice (Austria), Bakersfield Condors (ECHL), Chicago Express (ECHL), Abbotsford Heat (AHL) and for the past three seasons the Providence Bruins. Along the way he has earned his college degree, quit his addiction to chewing tobacco, become an inspiration to many through his blog, gotten married, become a father, and been honored by the Belfast Giants. He has also dropped the gloves 80 times in his 175 regular season games with the P-Bruins and countless other times before. And as he has survived the third round of roster cuts announced by the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, October 4, he continues to do whatever it takes to fight for one of the forward spots on the Boston squad and finally achieve his goal.
Robins’ commitment to doing whatever is necessary on and off ice speaks to his resolve. Having been hurt early in last season’s training camp, he was ultimately sent back to Providence, but went with the knowledge that management was aware of him and his grit and determination. Fast forward to a short run for the Boston Bruins in the playoffs and the announcement that the organization would not be re-signing resident, and beloved, tough guy Shawn Thornton and it was clear that the 2014-15 season’s training camp could be the opportunity that Robins needed.
The health conscious forward took a hard look at his skill set and at the current trends and positions available for pugilistically inclined players such as himself. He made a conscious decision to improve his skills as a skater to increase his all-around abilities.
After the Bruins’ disappointing showing against the New York Islanders in Tuesday’s preseason matchup, in which Robins again made his presence known, he was asked about the role of the “enforcer” in today’s NHL game, and if he had learned anything from the departed Thornton.
“That first and foremost guys like us have to be out there playing hockey and good hockey because this is the best league in the world,” he responded. “That one dimensional fighter is pretty much out of the game now.”
That doesn’t mean that Robins’ willingness to drop the gloves cannot be appreciated.
“[The game] is more geared toward the hard-nosed forechecking winger who isn’t afraid to mix it up when the time comes,” Robins continued. “And for me a lesson I learned from [Thornton] was that opportunities to get into fisticuffs and fight will present themselves if you’re playing hard and you’re playing rugged and hard-nosed style hockey.”
Understanding the necessity to be the best hockey player he possibly can be, Robins spent the summer improving his skating. He trained with Mike Macchioni, owner of Northeast Sports Training in Warwick, Rhode Island.
“I said, ‘I want to get more explosive. I want to get quicker. I want to get in the best shape of my life and I want to work on my lateral movement,’” Robins told reporters on Tuesday evening. “Pretty much all of my training was geared towards skating.”
His perseverance this past summer is evident to those who watch him on the ice. Ant it has not gone unnoticed by Head Coach Claude Julien.
“I see a better player. I think he’s certainly making a case for himself,” said Julien. “When you see what he brings and how hard he works and the energy that he gives our team, and everything else that we know about him, I’m certainly not ready to write him off yet.”
Robins is also keeping his eyes open and absorbing all he can from his opportunity to share the locker room and the ice with players he holds in high regard including Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara. The Pink Puck asked him what he felt he was learning from those who have been in the NHL for a few years.
“These are the best players in the world and I see how hard they work every single day. You’d think that once you’ve reached the top and once you’re the best you’d take a day off but these guys don’t,” Robins responded. “Guys like [Bergeron] and these great leaders on the team, like Zdeno, they’re working just as hard and they’re the hardest working guys out there.”
Their example has made an impression on Robins and it is something that he certainly wants to emulate.
“So it really shows me what it takes over the course of a season and over the course of a career,” he expounded. “Some of these guys have played for 15 or 20 years and it just shows that work ethic and that’s really the most important thing. I know what I have to work on and now it’s just a matter of showing up and working as hard as I can.”
And working hard is not something that Robins is afraid to do. He relishes the opportunity he has before him and will continue to approach his career with this mindset, while always looking for ways he can improve himself and concentrate on the things he can directly affect.
“If I am going to change, it’s just going to be little tweaks of things I can do better, diet, this and that. Really controlling every controllable that I can to make it,” Robins said. “Doing what I’ve done every single day over the past many years to get to where I am now.”
There are two more preseason games this coming weekend and still some hard decisions for the Boston Bruins management to make. Robins is not holding back and hoping he makes their decision in regard to him easy in that they realize they can’t let him go.
Watch the entire Robins interview: