Red Wings’ Robby Fabbri optimistic about future, playing center in Detroit

Detroit Free Press

Robby Fabbri isn’t sure what position he’ll play with the Detroit Red Wings next season. He’s certainly happy to remain with the team with some security.

Fabbri, one of the few bright spots for the team last season, signed a two-year, $5.9 million extension Monday.

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“If you ask any player in the league, there’s a little added stress on a one-year contract,” he said Monday during a Zoom press conference call. “To get a little bit of a cushion there is nice. I’m confident in myself, so I can only see myself improving and getting better here with this team as we come together as a group and do some good things in the future.”

Acquired in a trade with defending champion St. Louis in early November, Fabbri racked up 14 goals and 17 assists in 52 games playing mostly on the Wings’ top two lines. 

He played on a one-year, $900K contract this season and was hoping when he entered restricted free agency he could work out a multiyear deal with the Wings.

Fabbri, 24, has spent a majority of his NHL career at the wing but coach Jeff Blashill experimented with him at center just prior to coronavirus-induced stoppage of play in March. Fabbri wouldn’t mind playing center regularly, which he describes as his natural position.

“I really enjoyed it the last handful of games when I was center before the season paused,” he said. “I’m looking forward to taking on that role, if that’s the position they put me in. It’s a little early now for them to be thinking lineup-wise until we get some things going. … Being able to play center and have the puck in your hands and have it in the middle of the ice with speed really helps me with my game.”

Fabbri had hit a lull in his career before the trade, which only cost the Wings little-used wing Jacob de la Rose, who scored one goal in 34 games with the Blues.

After becoming a first-round pick in 2014, Fabbri’s was career sidetracked by injuries. He endured a pair of ACL tears to his left knee, which cut short his second NHL season, wiped out the next and delayed the following one.

He was a healthy scratch in eight of the Blues’ previous nine games prior to the trade. The offense-starved Wings quickly embraced him.

“Part of it was from Day One walking into that dressing room,” he said. “The guys were so welcoming, it was easy for me to get comfortable. I’d been waiting for that opportunity to play again and prove that I’m still a good player in this league. I knew with that opportunity I was going to give it everything I had and not let it go to waste. I couldn’t be happier that it’s here in Detroit.”

Since March, Fabbri has been holed up in Toronto. He recently got engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Kassandra, with a wedding date set for 2022. He’s also been able to access a rink this summer, though it doesn’t have the usual amenities for an NHL player.

“I’ve actually been able to get on the ice quite a bit,” he said. “It’s definitely a lot different getting dressed in the trunk of my car but we’re doing what we can to get out there.”

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