Late bloomer Robinson competing hard for spot on Senators’ roster

By Jason Menard
Buddy Robinson - Ottawa Senators

Photo: Ottawa Senators’ forward prospect Buddy Robinson spent two seasons playing Junior A hockey in Canada before moving to Lake Superior State for two seasons, then turned pro with the Binghamton Senators in 2012-13 (courtesy of Mark Spowart/Icon Sportswire)


Tank? For sure. Brick? Perhaps. You could even understand a playful Tiny. But at 6’5 and 240+ pounds of solid mass and physicality, the Ottawa Senators’ prospect does not appear to be a Buddy. But that is the name that has stuck for Buddy Robinson — and it’s a name that’s starting to make some waves throughout the Senators’ organization.

Self-effacing, personable, and conversational, it’s easy — upon second glance — to see that the Buddy name fits. But the origin is, in fact, a little closer to home.

“Actually, my first name is Charles,” he said. “I’m actually the third — Buddy’s just a nickname that’s stuck and has been passed down from my grandfather and my dad. When I was born it just stuck and I’ve been Buddy my whole life.”

Robinson is entering his second year of professional hockey, having been signed to a three-year deal by the Senators following his 2012-13 campaign at Lake Superior State University. Robinson has the size that’s NHL-ready and he’s worked hard to get his game there. But he admits it’s been a wild ride over the past couple of years.

“After my sophomore year, I sat down with my parents and my agent. We went over some options that we had that I didn’t know were on the table. He let me finish my sophomore year without that hanging over my head,” he said. “We sat down and we thought that this was the best choice that we had, as I would have three years to develop at the pro level. So far it’s been a great decision and I couldn’t be happier.”

Though comfortable in college, Robinson said the decision came down to his belief in himself and his capabilities.

“It’s a really tough decision when you’re leaving college. You know the players, you know you’d be coming back as an upperclassman and you’re going to be one of the go-to guys,” Robinson said. “You don’t know when you leave what’s going to happen. You need to just work hard every day. The decision just comes down to whether you think you’re ready or not. I had a really good summer going into the season last year and I thought I had a really good year.

“I had a smooth transition last year going to Bingo [Binghamton], and this year I want to prove that I’m ready and I’m going to make it hard for them to send me down.”

In 69 games last year, Robinson scored 15 goals and added 16 assists. Though it was a bit of a jump from the NCAA ranks, Robinson said he felt he adjusted fairly quickly — and well.

“It was alright. I went to Bingo and it was just a smooth transition .The better players move on, so the game’s just a little bit faster and a little bit quicker,” he said. “Mistakes are really magnified at the [pro] level compared to college, but you just have to be in your position at all times, know where you are, and stick to your game plan. Then everything’s going to work out.”

What Robinson found a bit more challenging was the length of the professional season.

“It’s definitely one of the things that changes the most. You’re playing 70 games, which is double what I played in college,” he explained. “You just have to take care of your body, the cool-down is really important — especially with those three-in-threes that you get in the American League.

“Those are a grind sometimes, but you just have to wake up every morning, get in your routine, and get ready for the game each night.”

Robinson wasn’t drafted. And while he’s appreciative of the opportunities he’s been given, the fact that he was overlooked at the draft is something that motivates him.

“I just feel like I have something to prove. Everyone’s told me that I’ve been a late bloomer. I came up through New Jersey, just AA/high school,” Robinson said. “A junior scout saw me and he decided to give me a chance. I just wanted to play hockey as long as I could because I love the game.

“But not being drafted makes you work a little bit harder so that you can get noticed and try to show people the best you got.”

Though not being drafted motivates him, Robinson also admits that he agrees with teams’ late-bloomer assessment of him.

“I think I was a late bloomer. Back home, playing AA hockey, it’s not the best — and I wasn’t as physical as I should be,” he said. “I come here and I’ve got a big frame and can move my feet a little bit — you learn. Using my frame, my body, and my size, it can really help my game and I think it’s something  that I need to do a little more.”

Participating in the rookie tournament for a second year, Robinson said he felt a little more at ease.

“I’m a little more comfortable. You know the guys, you know the routine. When you come up at first, you don’t know what to expect,” he said. “The butterflies were still there a little bit, but coming back I’m one of the older guys on the team. It’s just hockey, you listen to the coaches, and just have fun with it.”

And with main camp on the horizon, Robinson just wants to keep things simple.

“I want to work on just getting better every day,” he said. “Get the body into shape and head into main camp as good as I can.”

Follow Jason Menard on Twitter via @JayCMenard