TAMPA BAY – Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Gary Roberts announced his retirement today after a 21-year career that included 1,224 games, 910 points and a Stanley Cup title.
“Today, I am officially announcing my retirement from the National Hockey League,” said Roberts. “I am extremely grateful for having had the opportunity to be a part of this great league. The game has been so good to me and I will always be thankful for having had so many years doing what I loved to do.”
Roberts, 42, was acquired by the Lightning from Pittsburgh this past summer and skated in 30 games this season, recording four goals, seven points and 27 penalty minutes. His final game took place March 1 at Calgary, where Roberts began his career in 1986 and where he helped the Flames win the 1989 Stanley Cup. His storied career took him from Calgary (1986-96) to Carolina (1997-2000) to Toronto (2000-2004) to Florida (2005-2007) to Pittsburgh (2007-2008) before concluding this season in Tampa Bay.
"Gary has done everything we could have asked or expected of him this year," said Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton. "Although we wish things had been better to date for the club, we are extremely grateful to Gary for his contributions both on and off the ice. His leadership, professionalism and guidance will be felt for years because our young players were able to watch, listen and learn from one of the true greats of the game.
"We wish Gary and his wife, Michelle, all the best as they prepare for a new addition to their family and we hope, that if and when the time is right, Gary and his family consider working with the organization in another capacity."
A serious neck and back injury forced Roberts to retire at age 30 following the 1995-96 season in Calgary, but after a year of strenuous rehabilitation and reconditioning he returned with the Carolina Hurricanes for the 1997-98 season, tallying 20 goals and 49 points in 61 games. Following his return from the injury he went on to play in 639 more NHL games, recording 181 goals and 405 points. He garnered the Bill Masterton Trophy as the player who best exemplified sportsmanship and dedication to hockey just prior to his first retirement in 1995-96 after posting 22 goals, 42 points and 78 penalty minutes in 35 games with Calgary. The comeback was quite remarkable considering Roberts had missed the final 40 games of 1994-95 due to injury.
A three-time NHL All-Star, Roberts skated in 130 career Stanley Cup Playoff games with Calgary, Carolina, Toronto and Pittsburgh, tallying 32 goals, 93 points and 332 penalty minutes. He recorded five goals, 12 points and 57 penalty minutes in 22 playoff games in 1989 to help the Flames, the team that drafted him 12th overall in 1984, to a six-game series victory over the Montreal Canadiens in the Cup Final. He also helped Pittsburgh reach the Stanley Cup Finals last season, recording two goals, four points and 32 penalty minutes in 11 games.
A 6-foot-2, 215-pound native of North York, Ontario, Roberts broke the 20-goal barrier 16 times, finished with two 30-goal campaigns, two 40-goal seasons and even topped the 50-goal mark in 1991-92 - finishing with a career-best 53 goals and 90 points with the Flames.