On Wednesday, it was announced by the Toronto Maple Leafs that Matt Murray and his whole $4.867 million cap hit would be placed on LTIR, essentially meaning it won’t count against the Leafs cap hit in the coming 2023-2024 season (It’s a little more complicated than that, but for the sake of ease, that’s what it boils down to).
Immediately the internet exploded with memes and jokes like “Welcome to Robidas Island, Matt!”, They can’t keep getting away with it!” etc.
Now if you’ve spent any time on hockey Twitter (sorry…hockey X now, I guess), you’ve probably heard the term Robidas Island thrown out numerous times…but do you know what it even refers to other than a place where players go to disappear?
If it’s not immediately obvious, yes…Robidas Island refers to long-time NHL defenseman and current assistant coach Stéphane Robidas. In 2014, Robidas signed a three-year, $9 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He played 52 games, but his season was cut short by a couple of broken legs.
The problem the Leafs ran into in 2015-2016 was that they just weren’t very good at this point, and the next summer’s draft gave teams a chance to draft a Franchise center…Auston Matthews. So a decision was made…Tank. Trade away anybody who was seen as being decent (i.e. Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf), sign low-cost, low-impact players (i.e. P.A. Parenteau, Shawn Matthias), and play as many rookies as possible to ensure a low rank in the standings (i.e. William Nylander, Connor Brown).
When it came to players like Robidas, however, it was thought there wasn’t room on the roster for a decent defenceman to play regularly. So conveniently, Robidas’ injuries to his legs became so severe that he could no longer play in the NHL and had to be stashed on LTIR so the Leafs could use his cap space.
The Leafs’ GM at this time was the legendary Lou Lamiorello, and it was believed that whatever Lou wanted, he got. So when he needed Robidas to “disappear,” he did. A convenient, career-ending injury that may or may not have been concocted by one of the Godfathers of the NHL. Thus, Robidas Island was created.
Since Lou “created” this island, many Leafs have found one-way tickets delivered to them. Joffrey Lupul, Jared Cowan, Jake Muzzin, and now Matt Murray. Basically, if a Leaf has an injury that causes them to miss significant time and allows the Leafs to use the LTIR space, it’s referred to as Robidas Island.
As an aside, the whole purpose of Robidas Island worked. The Leafs sucked that season, came in dead last in the NHL, won the Draft Lottery, and drafted Auston Matthews. Maybe Lou was onto something…