Mike Robitaille

Home 5 Class of 2021 5 Mike Robitaille
Mike Robitaille played four seasons with the Buffalo Sabres and his name soon became synonymous for his working class toughness and grit that went hand in hand with hockey fans and the city of Buffalo.

Robitaille joined the Sabres in 1971 and soon helped steady the blue line with his stay-at-home defensive style and his low heavy shots on the power play. His patented signature hip checks were spectacular and soon became a fan favorite.

Mike was part of the Sabres team that made the franchise’s first playoff appearance following the 1972-73 season, appearing in all six playoff games that year.

In total, his career spanned 382 games over eight NHL seasons and he tallied 23 goals and 105 assists for the Sabres, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and the Vancouver Canucks. Prior to that he played two minor league seasons under the franchise of the New York Rangers with the Omaha Knights and the American Hockey League champion Buffalo Bisons.

His NHL career was cut short due to sustaining a neck fracture and spinal cord damage with the Vancouver Canucks. He immediately returned to Buffalo with his young family to rehabilitate and begin a new career. In the interim he filed a lawsuit against the Vancouver Canucks for gross negligence and punitive damages as he had been coerced into playing while injured.

After four years the final judgment was handed down by the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Robitaille’s favor and forever changing the duty of care between NHL teams and their players.  To this day players are the beneficiaries of that judgement and Robitaille will tell you that this result is his proudest moment as a professional athlete.

He was one of the founding members of “Hockey Hotline”, the Sabres postgame show on the Empire Sports Network.  Over the next 30 years, he served a number of roles on the Sabres broadcast team, working beside Hall of Famers Ted Darling and Rick Jeanneret. He consistently gave fans a colorful, in-depth and insightful, straightforward commentary on the games, the team and the entire NHL.

Mike and wife Isabel have embraced the community of Western New York for nearly fifty years and are grateful for the support and what Buffalo has afforded them.  Buffalo is home—forever.