Gary Roberts has not played hockey for the Penguins in 2008
That could change by the end of the month as the veteran winger is working his way back to the lineup. He has made significant progress in his recovery from a broken leg and high-ankle sprain sustained in a game on Dec. 29 against Buffalo.
“I am feeling much better. It’s been a long road. I am starting to get my conditioning back to where I think it needs to be to start playing again. I am hoping to get back and start practicing with the team soon,” he said.
Roberts won’t circle a date for his return, but he knows he’s getting back to full strength.
“I don’t like to guess because then you put dates in people’s heads, especially my own. I don’t want there to be a date,” he said. “I just want to know that I am 100 percent. To play my game, I can’t go out there at 80 percent and think I am going to be effective. I am just going to hurt them team if I go out there and am anything less than 100 percent. Especially with an injury like this, it’s one where you tend to avoid contact. And that’s something I am not going to be able to do if I want to play.”
Roberts has healed from the broken leg, but continues to rehab his injured ankle – a common theme for the Penguins this year.
“My leg is healed, it’s more just the ankle sprain that’s holding me back right now. But, I am getting closer, for sure,” he said. “I hurt my ankle when I broke my leg. Unfortunately, I went back on the ice with a somewhat healed leg, but not a healed ankle. So, I re-injured it skating early on when the ankle just wasn’t strong enough to be out there. It was very unfortunate because I really thought I’d be back by now. I put it behind me and am doing the work I have to do to get myself ready to play with five, six games left in the season – hopefully to get some games under my belt before playoffs.”
Still, the fact Roberts has a chance to return to active duty this season is promising for Penguins fans.
“It could be worse and that’s exactly the way I have to look at it. There’s always a positive,” he said. “In order for me to be mentally prepared to play, I have to look at the positives and realize our team has played pretty darn well and we’re in a pretty good position. If we get everyone back healthy, hopefully, we’ll be a stronger club.”