For Fabbri, frustration but no bitterness over his time with Blues

So how much fun was last night?

That was first question for Robby Fabbri when he picked up the phone Saturday afternoon from Detroit.

“It was awesome,” Fabbri replied. “A great first night.”

You could almost see the smile coming through the phone. Just like you could see the joy in his face Friday night when he scored two power play goals in his debut for his new team — the Detroit Red Wings.

It was as if weeks, no, make that a few years’ worth of frustration and disappointment melted away when that first goal whistled past Boston goalie Tuukka Rask. And then, he did it again.

“They both actually looked pretty similar,” Jaden Schwartz said. “In the middle of the ice. Good shots. Obviously we’re really happy for him.”

Yes, his now-former Blues teammates were watching Friday from Calgary, the night before their overtime win against the Flames.

“I texted him right after the game,” Vince Dunn said. “Congratulated him. Obviously it (stinks) having one of my good buddies leave. But it’s a business just like everything else.

“I think he wasn’t really finding his game in our lineup. I’m happy for him that another team wants to take a shot at him. It looks like he’s fitting in great.”

It sure does. Fabbri was the game’s No. 1 star for his two-goal performance Friday, when the Red Wings defeated the Bruins 4-2 at Little Caesars Arena.

Nothing as dramatic happened Sunday, but Fabbri did have the primary assist on Anthony Mantha’s game-winning goal with 31 seconds left in Detroit’s 3-2 win over Vegas. Playing on the Red Wings’ second line and first power-play unit, Fabbri logged 15 minutes 24 seconds — more ice time than in any of his nine games with the Blues this season.

“It’s definitely tough to leave that (Blues) group after everything we’ve been through together,” Fabbri told the Post-Dispatch. “But I gotta start worrying about myself and my career.

“To get this opportunity, it’s refreshing. It’s nice to go somewhere and get some opportunity to prove myself. Get those minutes and those chances to prove that I’m an everyday player and can play in big roles. And that’s kind of the mindset I’ve come into Detroit with.”

Just 48 hours before that Detroit-Boston game, Fabbri was sitting in the press box at Rogers Place in Edmonton, a healthy scratch for the fifth game in a row and eighth time this season for the Blues.

As the game ended, a 5-2 Blues triumph, he was called over to general manager Doug Armstrong’s box. Fabbri had been traded to Detroit (in exchange for forward Jacob de la Rose).

By the time Fabbri got downstairs to the locker room, word of the trade already had spread to the Blues’ players.

“So everyone came up to me, and said what they had to say,” Fabbri said. “I was lucky enough to have a night just to grab a bite with them and just talk a little bit before I headed out.”

Normally, the Blues fly out immediately after a road game to the next destination. But the team stayed overnight in Edmonton this time, so Fabbri was able say his goodbyes over food and beverages. Pretty much the entire team was there.

“You know how close the team is,” Fabbri said. “So everyone was really supportive and excited for me to go somewhere and get an opportunity. They definitely made it a little easier, saying goodbye. . . .”

The next morning, the Blues headed to Calgary. Fabbri flew to Detroit with only the clothes he packed for the Blues’ road trip.

“I’ll eventually get my stuff shipped here when I can,” Fabbri said.

Even though he has a championship ring and his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, Fabbri said it was tough the way things ended.

“That group last year, you know being a part of it but still sometimes on the outside looking in,” Fabbri said. “They did great things and you can’t really argue with the coach’s decision of playing the guys that helped them get to where they were last year when I was injured or when I was scratched.”

Fabbri played in only 32 regular-season games for the Cup champs, starting the season a month late as he completed the rehab and recovery from his second knee surgery, and then missing most of December with a shoulder injury. In the playoffs, he appeared in only 10 of 26 games.

“So it was just a tough situation,” Fabbri said. “No hard feelings. It’s just the business of the game.”

Asked if he got along OK with coach Craig Berube, Fabbri replied: “Chief was good with me. We were honest with each other. That’s all I ask. No beating around the bush and you know, just say it like it is.

“With everyone I’m a pretty honest guy so I respect when people are like that with me. No, there was no problems with us.”

So it’s on to Detroit, a team with some speed, skill, and according to Fabbri, some hunger. He’s only about 3 ½ hours from home in the Toronto area — his parents were in Detroit for the weekend games.

And so long, St. Louis.

“It’s definitely been a tough few years for me,” Fabbri said. “If you ask any player, no one loves sitting out and watching the games. It doesn’t get any easier when you’re watching.

“I’ve watched a lot of hockey in my last three years. You always want to be out there every time you’re watching. So it definitely gets tough and frustrating.”

Body willing, his days of watching could be over in Detroit.

“Overall it was the best for him,” Dunn said. “He was a great locker room guy, a jokester guy. Everyone loved him.

“He was a big piece of this team a couple years ago and unfortunately injuries kind of pulled him back and he just couldn’t find it again in our lineup. It’s the way it goes sometimes. I just think he’s gonna do great for Detroit.”

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