Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Player -- Gary Roberts
While developing his game in the Whitby and Oshawa minor hockey programs, Gary Roberts often had visions of his heroes, Guy Lafleur and Lanny McDonald, skating on either side as he headed up the ice. In reality, though, more often than not the real player at his side was future NHL star, Joe Nieuwendyk. The two were close friends from an early age and played lacrosse together as well as hockey.

When it came time to enter the junior ranks, the two parted company for a few years while Roberts joined the Ottawa 67's of the OHL. In his second year with the club, in 1983-84, the 67's won the Memorial Cup. Several seasons later, after a standout career in Ottawa, Roberts joined the Guelph Platers late in the season. He arrived just in time to savour his second Memorial Cup win.

Ready to turn pro, Roberts split his first season between the Calgary Flames, who had drafted him, and the Moncton Golden Flames of the AHL. His stay in the minors was short, however, as he caught on permanently with the Flames in 1987-88, about the same time his childhood buddy, Nieuwendyk, arrived as well.

From that point forward, Roberts established himself as a rambunctious player, known for his hard drives towards the opponent's net. In fact, his first-ever NHL goal was scored against the Vancouver Canucks. He put himself and the puck behind the goal line.

Roberts' second full year with the Flames brought him to the top as the club secured its first and only Stanley Cup victory. After the big win, he only got better as the years progressed. In 1991-92, he reached his height of personal output, scoring 53 goals in one campaign.

Several seasons later, however, all of the hard drives and hits taken from behind caught up with him. He missed most of the 1994-95 season with the hope that a long rest would ease the burning pain in his neck and numbness in his arm. He attempted a comeback the following year, but found that his symptoms got worse. A closer check by doctors revealed bone spurs and nerve damage in his neck. The operation required to correct the situation would be delicate and could offer no guarantee that Roberts would ever play pro hockey again.

He sat out the 1996-97 campaign and embarked on a vigourous reconditioning program. With his new super healthy regime in place, Roberts made a comeback as a free agent with the Carolina Hurricanes. With his neck built up like that of a bulldog's, Roberts was back in the league's goal creases engaged in territorial jousting. Over the three-plus seasons since his operation, he has played solid hockey, netting his usual 55 to 60 points per campaign.

In 2000, Roberts accepted a lucrative offer to sign as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs and during the 2002 Stanley Cup playoffs was the team's leading point getter and its best player. In the summer of 2002 Roberts underwent shoulder surgery and missed the better part of the 2002-03 season, before returning in the latter stages of the season and post season.

In 2003-04, Roberts surpassed the 1,000 games played plateau and notched his 800th point. Following a washed out NHL season in 2004-05, Roberts was acquired by the Florida Panthers in the summer of 2005.

As a member of the Florida Panthers, Roberts would help lead a group of young players as he entered into his 18th NHL season. The club would fail to make the playoffs in the 2005-06 season and mid-way through the following season Roberts was rumoured to be traded. As the NHL trade deadline approached, many reports suggested Roberts would have liked to be dealt to Toronto or Ottawa. The Panthers explored both options, but sent him to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Noah Welch. In Pittsburgh Gary Roberts is expected to help lead a group of young superstars including Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal.

Over two injury plagued seasons in Pittsburgh, Roberts managed to notch his 900th career NHL point and would be considered one of the best leaders & mentors the Penguins' ever had. After a magical run to the Cup Finals in 2008, Roberts was acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning where he would play the final 30 games of his career before retiring in March of 2009.


REGULAR SEASON PLAYOFFS
Season Club League GP G A TP PIM +/- GP G A TP PIM
1980-81 Whitby Legionnaires Minor-ON
1980-81 Hamilton Kilty B's ON-Jr.B 3 0 1 1 0
1981-82 Whitby Legionnaires Minor-ON 44 55 31 86 133
1982-83 Ottawa 67's OHL 53 12 8 20 83 5 1 0 1 19
1983-84 Ottawa 67's OHL 48 27 30 57 144 13 10 7 17 62
1983-84 Ottawa 67's M-Cup 5 1 4 5 18
1984-85 Ottawa 67's OHL 59 44 62 106 186 5 2 8 10 10
1984-85 Moncton Golden Flames AHL 7 4 2 6 7
1985-86 Ottawa 67's OHL 24 26 25 51 83
1985-86 Canada WJC-A 7 6 3 9 6
1985-86 Guelph Platers OHL 23 18 15 33 65 20 18 13 31 43
1985-86 Guelph Platers M-Cup 4 4 1 5 14
1986-87 Calgary Flames NHL 32 5 10 15 85 +6 2 0 0 0 4
1986-87 Moncton Golden Flames AHL 38 20 18 38 72
1987-88 Calgary Flames NHL 74 13 15 28 282 +24 9 2 3 5 29
1988-89 Calgary Flames NHL 71 22 16 38 250 +32 22 5 7 12 57
1989-90 Calgary Flames Fr-Tour 4 1 0 1 6
1989-90 Calgary Flames NHL 78 39 33 72 222 +31 6 2 5 7 41
1990-91 Calgary Flames NHL 80 22 31 53 252 +15 7 1 3 4 18
1991-92 Calgary Flames NHL 76 53 37 90 207 +32
1992-93 Calgary Flames NHL 58 38 41 79 172 +32 5 1 6 7 43
1993-94 Calgary Flames NHL 73 41 43 84 145 +37 7 2 6 8 24
1994-95 Calgary Flames NHL 8 2 2 4 43 +1
1995-96 Calgary Flames NHL 35 22 20 42 78 +15
1996-97 Calgary Flames NHL
1997-98 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 61 20 29 49 103 +3
1998-99 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 77 14 28 42 178 +2 6 1 1 2 8
1999-00 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 69 23 30 53 62 -10
2000-01 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 82 29 24 53 109 +16 11 2 9 11 0
2001-02 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 69 21 27 48 63 -4 19 7 12 19 56
2002-03 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 14 5 3 8 10 -2 7 1 1 2 8
2003-04 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 72 28 20 48 84 +9 13 4 4 8 10
2004-05
2005-06 Florida Panthers NHL 58 14 26 40 51 +4
2006-07 Florida Panthers NHL 50 13 16 29 71 +5
2006-07 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 19 7 6 13 26 -5 5 2 2 4 2
2007-08 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 38 3 12 15 40 -3 11 2 2 4 32
2008-09 Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 30 4 3 7 27 -11
NHL Totals 1224 438 472 910 2560 130 32 61 93 332


OHL Second All-Star Team (1985, 1986)
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (1996) Played in NHL All-Star Game (1992, 1993, 2004)
Missed remainder of 1994-95 season and majority of 1995-96 due to neck injury vs. Toronto, February 4, 1995.
Missed remainder of 1995-96 season and entire 1996-97 due to neck injury vs. Vancouver, April 3, 1996. Traded to Carolina by Calgary with Trevor Kidd for Andrew Cassels and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, August 25, 1997. Signed as a free agent by Toronto, July 4, 2000. Missed majority of 2002-03 due to off-season shoulder surgery, August 13, 2002. Signed as a free agent by Florida, August 1, 2005. Traded to Pittsburgh by Florida for Noah Welch, February 27, 2007. Rights traded to Tampa Bay by Pittsburgh with Ryan Malone for Tampa Bay's 3rd round choice (Ben Hanowski) in 2009 Entry Draft, June 28, 2008. Officially announced his retirement, March 10, 2009.