Jimmy Roberts, a five-time Stanley Cup champion and the first skater taken by the St. Louis Blues in the 1967 NHL expansion draft, died of cancer Friday. He was 75.
Roberts, a defenseman, led the Blues to the Stanley Cup Final in each of their first three seasons. On April 4, 1967, Roberts scored the Blues' first Stanley Cup Playoff goal with 6:47 remaining in the third period to give them a 1-0 victory in Game 1 against the Philadelphia Flyers in a quarterfinal series the Blues won in seven games.
"The St. Louis Blues and the Blues Alumni organization are deeply saddened by the passing of the original Blue Jimmy Roberts," the Blues said in a statement. "Jimmy was the franchise's first-ever draft pick and was instrumental in building the foundation of Blues hockey as a player and upholding its tradition as an alumnus. His tireless contributions to St. Louis, the Blues and the game of hockey as a whole will forever live as an example for future generations to follow. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Judy, and their two daughters."
Roberts won the Stanley Cup five times with the Montreal Canadiens (1965, 1966, 1973, 1976, 1977) and on three occasions was selected an NHL all-star (1965, 1969, 1970).
Roberts played in 1,159 NHL games, including 447 with the Blues, before retiring in St. Louis at the conclusion of the 1977-78 season. He spent 15 seasons in the NHL with the Canadiens and Blues. He would coach the Buffalo Sabres (1981-82), Hartford Whalers (1991-92) and Blues (1996-97).
Prior to playing in the NHL, Roberts had Scotty Bowman as his coach with the Peterborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey Association. Roberts also spent time in the Eastern Professional Hockey League with the Montreal Royals and Hull-Ottawa Canadiens before joining the Cleveland Barons in the American Hockey League in 1962-63.
Roberts made his NHL debut in 1963-64, getting one assist in 15 games with the Canadiens. He had 126 goals and 320 points in 1,006 regular-season games and 20 goals and 36 points in 153 Stanley Cup Playoff games.