As reported in the Providence Journal longtime Providence Bruin tough guy, and briefly a Boston Bruin, Bobby Robins has retired from hockey.

The 33-year-old UMass-Lowell hockey product only played 3 games this past season for the Boston Bruins in hopes that he may fill the enforcer and energy role left empty by the departing Shawn Thornton.

He was somewhat of a Cinderalla story if you will. For those of you who don’t habla AHL hockey, Robins had finally made it to the NHL after years in the minors, making him a rookie at the prime Calder Trophy winning age of 32. Yet the fighting that gave him his shot in The Show is what ultimately ended the dream.

Robins got into a scrap with Luke Schenn (pictured above) of the Philadelphia Flyers and was concussed. For a player who had amassed 833 penalty minutes in the AHL over roughly 9 seasons getting in a fight was the norm. But after being stung by Schenn Robins admits in the Providence Journal article he knew he was concussed. And he was never the same.

After being sent back down to Providence and playing only 2 more games there the effects of the concussion from the fight were too much to ignore. Robins hung up the skates for good.

Concussions is a topic that has been on the front page of the NHL news consistently over the last few years. Former Bruin Marc Savard, as we blogged about last week, became the poster boy for concussions when he was knocked out by legendary scumbag Matt Cooke on one of the more avoidable cheap head shots we’ve seen. That hit sparked a more widespread debate and initiatives for player safety. It’s something the NHL (publicly anyway) became concerned about and looked to help curb.

Fighting in hockey, although a very small source of reported concussions in the NHL, has also taken a dip in frequency since emphasis has been put on protecting players heads.

According to last season the NHL averaged 0.32 fights per game. Only 26% of games had a single fight and only 45 games had more than one fight. If you just go back to just the 2008-2009 season, the season before Savard was concussed, the NHL averaged 0.60 fights per game. 41% of games had fights and 173 games had multiple fights. Essentially, fighting has been cut nearly in half since then in efforts to “keep players safe”.

I don’t personally know the badass Bobby Robins but as a fan I’d say he made the right decision by stepping away from professional hockey now before really jeopardizing his health. And as short lived as it was, he lived the ultimate dream. He lived a dream of playing in the NHL made in part by protecting his teammates admirably all those years. But even as the league is making a transition to make players safer the players still have to identify when the risk is too great. That’s what Robins did.

So it’s only fitting that a smart and beloved player like Bobby Robins would also lead the way in that thinking, putting his long-term health and family first. He certainly will be missed in the Providence and Boston organizations, and by us beer drinkers in the balcony.