Team Canada rallying around injured Fabbri

Robby Fabbri is on crutches instead of the ice at the World Juniors, but his positive attitude is still helping out the Canadian team as they prepare for the semi-finals.

TORONTO — Wearing an air-cast on his right foot and using crutches to walk, St. Louis Blue’s prospect and Mississauga, Ontario native Robby Fabbri spoke to the media for the first time since his tournament-ending ankle injury in Canada’s quarterfinal game against Denmark.

And while you could hear the disappointment of not being able to play for his country, Fabbri managed a slight smile as he recalled what happened early in the first period against the Danes.

“I just went in on the forecheck, tried to finish my check, and got tangled up there and somehow my leg ended up behind me, almost touching my head,” says Fabbri.

“It’s an unfortunate play, but there’s nothing you can do about it … just making sure I don’t bring anyone down, just stay up, you know, happy to be here and happy to support the guys.”

Fabbri’s happy demeanor, despite a cast and crutches, hasn’t gone unnoticed by teammates like Max Domi.

“He’s a great guy on and off the ice. His attitude is still really positive, it hasn’t changed at all, and we’re going to need that from him,” says Domi.

The final prognosis on Fabbri’s injury is a right high-ankle sprain, which could keep him off the ice for four-to-six weeks, but optimistically, Fabbri’s hoping to be back as soon as possible.

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“It’s very disappointing for him obviously,” says Coach Benoit Groulx. “He’s a good hockey player, but what separates him from other players, is how competitive he is and how much he wants to make a difference out there. He wants to be that guy, so in that way, it’s very disappointing for him.”

The Canadian team recognizes the position Fabbri’s in now, unable to compete on a stage young hockey player’s dream of, especially in his home country, which is why they’ve made it clear who they’re playing for now.

“It sucks to see a teammate like that go down, you don’t like to see that happen to anyone, especially one of your teammates, one of your buddies,” says Domi. “It sucks, but we’re playing for him now and we’re doing it all for him.”

“It’s tough to see,” adds alternate captain, Sam Reinhart. “He still has a positive attitude, so that’s nice to see out of him and obviously very motivating.”

“It feels good that the guys think that,” says Fabbri of his teammates’ incentive to play in his honour. “They know that I’m here for them as well. I’m a cheerleader the next couple days and I’ll be there, cheering them along the way.”

“‘Cheerleader’ is a great word for him,” says Domi, of Fabbri’s self-given title moving forward. “I’m sure he’ll still be vocal in the room and come and get the boys going.”

“I’m not saying much,” says Fabbri, but he knows he doesn’t need to. “They showed what they can do last game and I’m just here to keep everyone’s spirit’s up.”

His time on the ice may have come to an abrupt ending, but Fabbri says being at the tournament is an experience he’ll always remember.

“You always want to play in it as a kid and to finally do that in Canada, in front of the crowd, and playing with such elite players and getting the best of the best with the staff of Hockey Canada,” Fabbri says, of what memories he’ll leave with. “On ice to off, I can take away a lot.”

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