Michael James David Robitaille (born February 12, 1948) is a retired Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman and commentator. He played in the National Hockey League with the New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks.
Robitaille played in 382 regular season NHL games, scoring 23 goals and adding 105 assists. He was most well known for his punishing hip checks. He also appeared in 13 playoff games, six with Buffalo and seven for Vancouver, tallying one assist. His career ended pre-maturely in 1977 when he was blind-sided by Dennis Owchar of the Pittsburgh Penguins, which caused nerve damage in his neck. He would later win a lawsuit against the Canucks for mistreating his injuries.
Robitaille was born in Midland, Ontario, and joined the Sabres' broadcasting arm in 1989. He was one of the founders of Hockey Hotline, the Buffalo Sabres' postgame show on Empire Sports Network, in 1991 and worked for the Sabres and various sister outlets until his retirement from television in 2014. He is known for his colorful analogies and exaggerations.
During the 2000s, Robitaille was the fill-in commentator whenever play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret and former color commentators Jim Lorentz or Harry Neale couldn't fulfill their duties on a game day broadcast.
In February 2010, Robitaille was injured in a car accident suffering a spinal cord injury with neurological damage. Robitaille’s injuries from the accident resulted in him missing broadcast duties for the remainder of the 2009-2010 NHL season. Through months of rehabilitation from the time of accident through September of that year, doctors and Robitaille said that he was not at 100% yet. However he felt ready and returned to his broadcast duties in time for the start of the 2010-11 NHL season with the Sabres. On October 3, 2013, it was announced that Mike Robitaille will be partially retiring after the season and former Sabres forward Brad May will join the crew this year on a limited basis before moving into Robitaille's slot in a full-time role next year. Robitaille will continue his radio work and some limited television work during his retirement.
By Dean Hanley
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