11. Gary Roberts
Gary Roberts was born on May 23rd, 1966 in North York, Ontario. A 6’2", 215 lb. left winger, he was chosen in the first round of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft by the Flames with the 12th overall selection. Before that, he made his name in the OHL with the Ottawa 67’s, playing 101 games over the preceding two seasons and scoring 39 goals with 38 assists.
After his selection, Roberts played seven AHL games with the Moncton Golden Flames in 1984-85, scoring four goals and two assists. Aside from that, he played the rest of the season and most of the rest with the 67’s (83 games, 70 goals, 87 assists), closing out his junior career with the Guelph Platers in 1985-86 (23 games, 18 goals, 15 assists).
1986-87 would see Roberts split the year between the Golden Flames (38 games, 20 goals, 18 assists) and Calgary. He joined the NHL club three times over the course of the season, scoring five goals on 38 shots with 10 assists, a plus-6 rating, and a truculent 85 penalty minutes, ranking eighth on the team despite only playing in 32 contests. Calgary posted a 46-31-3 record, then lost to the Winnipeg Jets in six games in the playoffs’ opening series.
In 1987-88, Roberts continued to earn a whole lot of penalty time per game, racking up a team second 282 minutes in 74 contests. He scored 13 goals on 118 shots with 15 assists, and ranked sixth on the club with a plus-24 rating. He scored twice on five shots in a 9-1 win against the Quebec Nordiques on November 19th. The Flames went 48-23-9, earning a Smythe Division title and a a five-game, first round series victory against the Los Angeles Kings. They followed that by getting swept in four by the Edmonton Oilers. Roberts had a pair of markers, three assists, and 29 penalty minutes, appearing in every game.
In 1988-89, Roberts played in 71 games for Calgary, again ranking second on the club in penalty minutes, with 250. He scored 22 goals on 123 shots with 16 assists and a team-seventh plus-32 rating. In a 9-0 win against the Buffalo Sabres on November 5th, he earned an assist and scored twice, including a shorthanded marker. On December 4th, he scored twice including the game winner in a 6-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets. Calgary collected a club record 117 points on their way to a 54-17-9 record, then claimed the Stanley Cup after winning four playoff series in a combined 22 contests. Roberts scored five times with seven helpers and a team-second 57 penalty minutes through the playoffs.
1989-90 would see Roberts suddenly discover how to score a lot of points at the NHL level. He scored a club-second 39 goals (including an also team-second five game winners) on 175 shots to lead the Flames with a 22.3 shot percentage, adding 33 assists, a team-fourth plus-31 rating, and a team-second 222 penalty minutes. He had 16 multipoint games, including five where he totaled three or more. On December 14th, he scored a goal and added four assists in an 8-2 win against the Nordiques. He scored his first career hat trick on March 30th, adding an assist in a 6-2 win against the Oilers. Calgary finished with a 42-23-15 record, earning 99 points and earning another division title. The Flames lost in the first round in six games to the Kings. Roberts scored twice with five assists.
In 1990-91, Roberts placed seventh on the club with 53 points. He scored 22 goals on 132 shots with 31 assists while appearing in all 80 games. He also led the team with 252 penalty minutes and earned a plus-15 rating. He finished with multiple points 14 times, including two assists and the game winning goal on October 27th in a 9-4 win against the Washington Capitals. The Flames went 46-26-8 on their way to a second place finish in the Smythe Division. The team followed with a seven-game series loss to the Oilers. He scored once with three helpers through the postseason.
Roberts had a career high 90 points in 1991-92, scoring an NHL third most 53 goals on an NHL leading 27% shot rate. He added 37 helpers, a team leading plus-32 rating, and a team-second 207 penalty minutes. He also led the club with 10.0 point shares and appeared in the first all-star game of his career. On 28 occasions he posted multiple points. In a 7-1 win against the Kings on October 10th, he scored his second career hat trick, adding an assist for good measure. On March 26th, he tallied another hat trick in a 7-2 win against the Kings. Calgary went 31-37-12, missing the playoffs for the first time in 17 seasons.
Roberts missed just over a quarter of the season in 1992-93. Despite this, he placed fourth on the Flames with 79 points and appeared in his second straight all-star game. He shot a team-leading 22.9% on 166 shots, scoring 38 goals with 41 assists, a club best plus-32 rating, and a Flames-third 172 penalty minutes. He earned 8.1 point shares, earning part of a three-way tie for first place amongst the Flames non-goalies, with Theoren Fleury and Robert Reichel. He had multiple points in nearly half of his 58 appearances, two dozen to be precise. He also collected two more hat tricks. On December 4th in a 5-3 win against the St. Louis Blues (he also had an assist), and on December 27th in a 7-3 win against Edmonton. Calgary earned a 43-30-11 record before returning to the postseason, losing to Los Angeles in the first round. Roberts had a goal and six assists through the series.
In 1993-94, Roberts played 73 games for Calgary. He had previously joined both the 40-goal and the 40-assist club, but never in the same season before. He totaled 41 markers on 202 shots with 43 helpers. His 84 points was third on the team, with a team-second plus-37 rating and a team-fifth 145 penalty minutes. He led the team with three shorthanded goals and was third with five game winners. His 9.7 point shares were second on the club and the best mark out of all Flames forwards. He had more than one point on 25 occasions. On December 6th, he scored another hat trick, adding an assist in a 6-1 against the Ottawa Senators. He lit the lamp a career high four times on March 15th, again adding an assist in a 7-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Calgary finished at 42-29-13, winning the Pacific Division before
losing in the first round to the Canucks, in seven games. Roberts had a pair of goals and six helpers.
1994-95 would see Roberts play in eight games before getting sidelined with a degenerative neck condition. He returned to the ice in the middle of 1995-96, playing 35 games and scoring three more hat tricks. He had 22 goals on 84 shots, leading the NHL with a 26.2 shot percentage, adding 20 assists, a plus-15 rating, and 78 penalty minutes. The Flames went 34-37-11, losing the first round of the playoffs in four straight to the Chicago Blackhawks. Roberts won the Bill Masterson Award for persevering and returning to the NHL at a valuable level, but retired following the season due to continued problems with his neck.
After a year out of action, Roberts came out of retirement. He was still with the Flames, but needed to ask the Flames to negotiate a trade to an Eastern Conference team in order to reduce travel stress on his neck. He played another 11 seasons between the Carolina Hurricanes (207 games, 57 goals, 87 assists), the Toronto Maple Leafs (237 games, 83 goals, 74 assists), the Florida Panthers (108 games, 27 goals, 42 assists), the Pittsburgh Penguins (57 games, 10 goals, 18 assists), and the Lightning. He retired for good following the 2008-09 campaign. He went into personal training for professional atheletes, and currently owns and operates the Gary Roberts High Performance Centre and Fitness Institute in his hometown of North York.
All-Time Statline: 585 games, 257 goals, 248 assists, plus-225 rating, 1736 penalty minutes, 48.19 point shares.