Former NHL player Gary Roberts, who has gained prominence for his off-ice training of current players, has been hired by the Dallas Stars as a player development consultant.
Since retiring during the 2008-09 season, Roberts has worked extensively with a number of young players, including the Lightning's Steven Stamkos, the Panthers' Stephen Weiss, the Stars' James Neal and Hurricanes rookie Jeff Skinner.
"We're very pleased to officially add Gary Roberts as a player development consultant for our hockey club," said Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. "Obviously I know Gary well and what he's all about. He's a first-class person and I think our young players will benefit from his years of experience."
Roberts played 21 NHL seasons, but 11 of those seasons came after he initially retired in 1996 due to a serious neck injury. But he was able to work himself back into shape, and long was regarded as one of the fittest players in the NHL.
Nieuwendyk said Roberts will be working with the Stars' young players and prospects at all levels, in tandem with the club's strength and conditioning team, coaches and trainers.
Roberts had 438 goals and 910 points in 1,224 NHL games with the Flames, Hurricanes, Maple Leafs, Panthers, Penguins and Lightning. He and Nieuwendyk won the Stanley Cup with the Flames in 1989.
He retired during the 2008-09 season with the Lightning, and since then has worked to train younger players, starting with Stamkos. The Tampa Bay center credited Roberts with his development from his 23-goal rookie season to his League-leading 51 goals last season.
This summer, Roberts trained 25 players near his home in Uxbridge, Ont., and put them through grueling workouts that included weight training, cardio work and nutrition education.
"It was tough," Stamkos told TSN. "You had to be totally dedicated to it. Every single day."
"It was one of the hardest things I've ever done," added Avalanche prospect Cameron Gaunce. "Robs is very intense, but it is much more than the workouts. He teaches you an entire lifestyle change -- resting properly, eating the right things at the right times. He teaches you that hockey is a year-round job."
Gaunce bought in and the results were marked -- he lost 15 pounds in the first five weeks, dropped his body fat by six percent and won the fitness testing at the Avalanche's training camp.
"I just feel so much stronger, so much quicker on the ice, it's amazing," said Gaunce.
Nieuwendyk is hoping for the same results with the Stars' youngsters.