Phil Roberto played four years of junior hockey with the hometown Niagara Falls Flyers of the OHA. In his final season with the team, he demonstrated an ability to play tough and to be offensively prolific.
He hooked up with the Montreal Canadiens' organization in1969 where he spent most of the year playing for the Voyageurs of the AHL. Cracking a Habs' lineup replete with star forwards would prove to be very difficult.
In his second year with the organization, however, he did manage to dress for 39 games in which he showed some promise, netting 21 points. He then stayed on for a playoff run, culminating in a Stanley Cup victory against the Blackhawks in 1971.
Roberto returned the following season but was dealt to the St. Louis Blues for Jimmy Roberts. The Blues figured Roberto would be the offensive catalyst that could take some pressure off of their top gun, Garry Unger. But after a season and a half of moderate play, he suffered a severe cut to his arm while attempting to stop a glass door from hitting him in the face. His arm went through the window, cutting a nerve that debilitated his hand. Most hockey experts assumed that the accident had nixed Roberto's career. But extensive therapy in Toronto brought about a gradual recovery. As a gesture of support, the Leafs allowed him to use the Gardens' ice for one hour a day to stay in shape.
Once his healing was complete, Roberto showed his appreciation to the Leafs in his first game back, which happened to be in the Gardens. He scored an important goal against the Blue and White and then joined the Plager brothers in ganging up on Eddie Shack.
But in spite of his exceptional recovery, Roberto never regained his form with the Blues. He was traded to the Red Wings in 1974. There he scored 40 points in 46 games and appeared to be back on top. The next season, however, marked the beginning of a gradual decline in his NHL aspirations. Between 1976 and 1977, he made the rounds with three of the worst clubs in the league, moving with the Kansas City Scouts to Colorado and then on to the Cleveland Barons where he finished his big-league days.