By Alan Pergament
Buffalo Sabres analyst Mike Robitaille said a tearful goodbye at the end of his final MSG post-game show Sunday night.
But the 66-year-old Robitaille really isn't retiring in the traditional sense.
He might even be on his regular WGR talk show hour, "Roby Radio," at 8 Wednesday morning.
His tears Sunday night seemed to surprise him, though in retrospect they were totally understandable.
"I was signed by the New York Rangers when I was 14," said Robitaille. "When your whole life is hockey, it is not an easy thing to give up."
His tears might have confused some viewers into thinking Robitaille was giving up all his media ventures instead of just his regular MSG role.
In a telephone interview Monday night, Robitaille said he expects to do his WGR show for four or five Wednesdays during the National Hockey League playoffs, plans to be back on WGR at least for his hour show in the fall and might also appear on MSG next season on an emergency fill-in basis.
"This is a semi-retirement," said Robitaille. "I'll just have enough to do on TV to have a parking pass."
"I would fill-in on TV now and then in a small role if someone is sick or can't make the show," added Robitaille.
He said he owes WGR the extra weeks this season because of the time he took off during the Olympic break.
In addition to his broadcast duties, Robitaille said he expects to take a larger role with Yancey's Fancy, the cheese company that is one of the co-sponsors of his WGR show along with the Seneca casinos. His sponsors want him to continue his radio show next fall.
"I represent them and I''ll continue to be on the radio," said Robitaille.
"I don't want to give up the bully pulpit," he cracked.
Robitaille said he is leaving his regular TV role because he wants to spend more time traveling, reading and being with his four grandchildren. He and his wife have a home in Mexico that they visit three or four times a year and he'd like to do it more during the winter when the Sabres play.
During the TV ceremonies and the post-game, I was waiting for an explanation for why he was leaving the chair next to Brian Duff, who he has enjoyed working with. Robitaille essentially told me that he just wants to work now on his own terms rather than have a regular TV job.
"I guess you just know when it is time," said Robitaile. "I'd rather leave early than late even though I'm probably leaving a little (money) on the table. I just didn't want to make a full commitment so I could do more traveling that I want to do. I'm running out of time."
Robitaille added he hasn't finalized his fall plans with WGR or its Entercom brother WBEN -- which carries a 15-minute segment with him on Wednesdays -- but he doesn't expect there to be a problem because he brings the sponsors.
There is a chance he'll do even more work for WGR next fall, though it wouldn't be as full a schedule as he has done in years past appearing after every game.
Besides being on WGR during the NHL playoffs, Robitaille's goals will be minimal until the Sabres play real games again in October.
"I'm trying to figure out how to be quiet for the next six months," he cracked.