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Leafs announce Roberts signing

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO (CP) - The Toronto Maple Leafs made it official Tuesday night, signing veteran left-winger Gary Roberts to a one-year contract extension that takes him through the 2003-04 season.

Reports of a deal that would keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent July 1 first surfaced Saturday. He's making $2.5 million US this season and his new deal is speculated to be in the $3.5- to $4-million range.

"Any time you get a pay raise when you're 36 going on 37, you have to be pretty happy,'' said Roberts. "I've enjoyed being part of this team, the fans are good to me, the media is mostly good to me and we've had two good playoffs here.''
Gary Roberts will be in the Blue and White for at least another season.
Graig Abel Photography

Roberts was in his second game back Tuesday following off-season surgery on both his shoulders. He picked up an assist - his first point of the season - on Toronto's second goal by Alexander Mogilny in a 4-3 win over Carolina.

"I was fairly average out there,'' Roberts said. "The legs were not going quite as good in Game 1 (Saturday), but I'm not going to get too excited after good games or too down after bad days.''

Leafs coach and general manager Pat Quinn said it was important the team sign Roberts before the end of the season.

"You want the player to feel good about things,'' Quinn said. "It has been such as issue, it tires you after a while. We tried it with Curtis (Joseph) last year and it didn't work out. This is good for both of us.''

Said Roberts: "I didn't want to sit here thinking about it and talking to you (media) about it. I've enjoyed my time here and want to stay.''

Roberts was asked if he would have preferred a longer extension, but said uncertainty in the NHL's collective bargaining agreement with the NHL Players' Association in September 2004 made both him and the Leafs satisfied with a one-year deal.

"I'll take things one year at a time,'' Roberts said. "We'll see what happens in 2004. Hopefully, we're all playing hockey.''

Roberts didn't rule out staying with the Leafs beyond next season.

"If my health hangs in there, I'll try to play until I'm 40.''

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