“I am extremely grateful for having had the opportunity to be a part of this great league,” Roberts said. “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, entered the league as a first-round draft choice of the Calgary Flames in the 1984 NHL entry draft. He played 10 seasons for Calgary and helped them win a Stanley Cup in 1989. After a serious neck injury forced Roberts to retire from 1994-96, he returned to the Flames late in ’96 and compiled 42 points in 35 games. At the conclusion of the season, he was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance and dedication to the sport.
Roberts also played for the Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins before concluding his career as a member of the Lightning.
Over the course of his 1,224 game career, Roberts amassed 438 goals and 471 assists for 909 points. He also had 2,560 penalty minutes and was named to the NHL All-Star Game three times, in 1992, 1993, and 2004.
Roberts, a native of North York, Ontario, appeared in 30 games with Tampa Bay this season, producing four goals and seven points. But more than statistics, Roberts took it upon himself to step forward and serve as mentor for some of the younger players on the club, specifically 2008 No. 1 overall pick Steven Stamkos
, who skated on a line with Roberts for a portion of the season.
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to play some games with Stamkos and see him grow and see him develop,” Roberts told TBL.com. “You can’t say enough about his abilities; he’s a great young man who has got a real bright future ahead of him and it was a pleasure for me to have a small opportunity to play with him.”
As Roberts retires, he leaves behind a productive legacy, both on the ice and in the locker room.
“The impression I want to leave with the young guys is that I was a guy who came to the rink and prepared to play every night and battled hard every shift,” Roberts said. “That’s the way I played my whole career and that’s the way I’d like to be remembered.”
Here in Tampa he leaves behind something additional – an autographed stick propped in front of Stamkos’ locker which reads, “I look forward to watching you for many years” and is signed by none other than Gary Roberts.