Doug Roberts was a brilliant all-around athlete while growing up in Detroit. He was an excellent baseball prospect and played football in Big 10 competition at the University of Michigan. He might have taken a harder look at football as a career but was slowed with too many injuries.
He also had a background in hockey, spending plenty of time at the Olympia, home to the Detroit Red Wings. As a youngster, Roberts, like his older brother, worked as a stick boy for the Wings, earning $3 or $4 a game. He also played hockey in the exceptional development programs around the city.
As a winger, Roberts played for three seasons with the Michigan State Spartans. During that time, he was voted a WCHA Second-Team All-Star and a member of the NCAA West First All-American Team in 1965. The following year, he joined the Red Wings' organization. He spent the majority of his year with the Memphis Wings of the CHL. While there, he won the Ken McKenzie Trophy as the league's top rookie.
In 1967, Roberts split his year evenly between the Red Wings and the Fort Worth Wings of the CHL. But in a surprise move, he was traded to the Oakland Seals at the end of the season. Shaken up by his departure from his beloved hometown, Roberts brought an open mind to his new experience on the West Coast. Upon his arrival, however, he was further shaken up to discover that he had to convert to playing as a defenseman. He did his best to reduce the learning curve as quickly as possible, but it wasn't easy. He put in three seasons of full-time labour on behalf of a struggling team. By the end of his final year with the club, he finished with a -56 rating.
In 1971, he was traded to the Boston Bruins who kept him as insurance against injuries. He was bounced regularly between the parent club and the Boston Braves of the AHL. Then, two years later, Roberts landed back with his hometown Wings again. Inspired by his return, he put in his best-ever NHL campaign, scoring 37 points in 57 games.
The following year, however, his performance fell into decline. He was dropped back to the AHL with the Virginia Wings to close out the 1974-75 campaign. He then furthered his pro aspirations by joining the New England Whalers of the WHA for two seasons, before completing his hockey career after a season Jokerit Helsinki in 1978.