Coming off a four-year career at Brown, Dennis Robertson is poised to make the jump from Ivy League to the pros.
Robertson was acquired from Toronto on Jan. 1 of this year as part of the trade that brought John-Michael Liles to the Hurricanes and sent Tim Gleason to the Leafs, and after attending three Development camps with his former team, he’s seen it all, but understands the benefit.
“I’ve been through the ringer a few times but each one is a little different,” said Robertson. “They’re all tough in different ways but it’s a lot of fun to get to know the guys.”
The 6’1” defenseman joined the Checkers late last season at the conclusion of his collegiate career and left a solid impression on head coach Jeff Daniels.
“You watch the way Dennis was practicing at the end of the year, and even though he didn’t get a chance to play until the last game of the year and it was a long month of practicing every single day, he was ready for that opportunity when it came,” said Daniels.
Robertson is well aware of the advantage he has, having gotten his first taste of the pro game last season, and knows that the experience can help him going into his rookie year.
“It allowed me to be more confident next year to get a taste of what that level’s like. It was good to be there in general and get to know the organization, the guys and what’s expected of you. Even the practice level and knowing where you need to be, because it’s definitely a jump up from college hockey.”
The British Columbia native was brought on to the Checkers on March 20, but didn’t make his pro debut until the last game of the season, nearly a month later. The game against Rockford featured two teams with no playoff hopes, but despite the low stakes, Robertson knew he still had something to gain from the contest.
“Both teams were eliminated and there wasn’t a lot on the line, but at the same time that’s the caliber of player you’re going to be playing against next year,” said Robertson.
Daniels puts more stock in his level of practice during his time with the Checkers, but understood Robertson’s eagerness to get into a game, even if it was the last of the season.
“That game was riverboat up and down and there was nothing to the game,” said Daniels. “If you look back at the month he was practicing and the way he got engaged in the battles and kept it simple and wanted to learn. I know he was itching to get into a game and unfortunately it was the last game, but he was pumped.”
Prior to his late-season stint with Charlotte, Robertson completed his career at Brown, where he led defensemen in scoring all four years. Robertson excelled in his time at Brown, being named to the First or Second Team All-Ivy all four years, and is looking forward to joining his fellow Ivy Leaguer Danny Biega on the Checkers this season.
“I didn’t know him before I got down there but we kind of bonded right away because we’re in similar situations, we played in the same league and I played against him for three years,” said Robertson. “We’ve battled a few times in the corners. It’s good to have a guy like that there that can show me the ropes.”
Robertson, who captained his Brown squad for his final two seasons, sees an opportunity with this young Checkers team to make his mark and establish himself as a vital piece of the organization’s ongoing success.
“I hope to go out there and show what I can do and be a part of that team,” said Robertson. “I know they lost a few character guys and hopefully I can help fill those shoes. Based on the younger guys that are here in camp, I think we’re going to have a pretty good team even though we’ll be young.”