Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Insider: A New Injury but a Familiar Pain for Blues' Fabbri

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Insider: A New Injury but a Familiar Pain for Blues' Fabbri

Article excerpt

On the first shift of the biggest tournament of his hockey career, playing for Team Canada in the quarterfinals of the World Junior Championships in 2015, Robby Fabbri went into the corner and needed assistance to come out.

In front of his family at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, 16 miles from his hometown of Mississauga, Ontario, Fabbri suffered a high-ankle sprain and was done. He was relegated to spectator status on a club led by future No. 1 overall pick Connor McDavid that three days later won the gold medal.

"It really hit me, sitting there before the gold-medal game, hearing how loud it was and seeing how excited the guys were," Fabbri said. "You want to be part of that game, you want to be in that game, part of the win. It was tough, but you've got to deal with those things and move forward. That has helped me a lot being able to cope with this."

"This" is a fully torn ACL in his left knee, an injury Fabbri suffered on Feb. 4, requiring surgery and keeping him out for the remainder of the season. He's been able to handle the heartache so far, but in a couple of days the Blues will begin the playoffs without the second-year left winger and after netting 15 points in 20 games during last year's run to the Western Conference finals, it'll be hard to watch.

"For sure," Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson, Fabbri's roommate in St. Louis, said. "He had an unreal playoffs last year and he really wanted to be a part of it this year, but stuff happens. He's dealing with it, he's a pretty positive kid. He knows if he works hard, he'll come back even stronger and better. That's his mindset and he's looking forward to next year."

It was Feb. 4, just 13 days after Fabbri had celebrated his 21st birthday and only the second game with Mike Yeo behind the Blues bench, he was shoved into the side boards by Pittsburgh's Carter Rowney. Fabbri labeled it an innocent hit, but with all of his weight on his left leg, he got twisted up and fell in what he called a freak injury.

"I've hurt my knee before and this was a little bit worse, so I knew it wasn't too good," said Fabbri, who was near the Blues' bench and used the boards to get himself to the door. "I got the news of the severity that night. I got lucky in the sense that it was just the ACL. But when I heard, it kind of took a few days to settle in and realize that this year is out of the picture."

Soon Fabbri's phone would ring and on the other end was teammate Scottie Upshall, who as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2010 tore the ACL in his right knee. At the time, he was 26 and leading the Coyotes with 18 goals in 49 games.

"I called him and said, 'I'm a prime example of, if you think this is going to truly affect you forever, it doesn't,'" Upshall said. "It's a tough injury, there's no question, the effort you put into getting back to where you were before is crucial. I had these chats with Fabs, and I told him, 'Look, you're going to have a tough grind to start off, but then you're going to get into a pretty good routine.'"

Upshall tore his knee ligament on Jan. 28, about the same time of year as Fabbri, and was ready in time to play for Phoenix in the preseason the following year. He went on to score 16 goals and post 27 points in 61 games with the Coyotes.

"My knee felt at times like it was going to explode, but I had some of the best numbers in my career," Upshall said. "My knees came back and have been awesome, so in this case there's light at the end of the tunnel. Those little stories will help Fabs out mentally and physically to know that he can come back just as strong as he was before and he's going to be a great player in this league. …

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