Gary Roberts' Great Career Comes to an End

Mark SmithCorrespondent IMarch 4, 2009

Gary Roberts has cleared waivers, and with every team passing on the 42-year-old, his career seems to have surely come to an end. Tampa Bay will likely look to have him retire, and despite his desire to keep playing, he will likely do exactly that.

Roberts was a popular player wherever he played, a true leader. Throughout his career he pushed for the net and made his teammates better players around him. At his peak, way back in 1991-1992, he was a top scorer in the league with more than 53 goals.

Roberts won his only Stanley Cup in his second NHL year, playing with the Calgary Flames in 1989 on a team that could have won many Cups if not competing with Gretzky, Messier, Coffey, and the rest of the Oilers. 

His longevity is remarkable given the injuries he sustained early that haunted him, a result of his hard-driving style. He missed most of the 1994-95 season in an effort to repair his neck and back injuries, but they remained with him, and he sat out the entire season in 1996-1997. 

What came next was a reconditioning and health program that Roberts became famous for in the league late in his career. He played several productive seasons with Carolina and then signed on with the Leafs. He was a key player in the 2002 playoff run by the Leafs, but injuries once again caught up with him over the following seasons. He played his 1,000th game as a Leaf and then signed with the Florida Panthers.

His last gasp was as a mentor and inspiration with last year's Penguins. Pittsburgh has clearly missed his leadership this season, and hockey fans everywhere will miss him going forward.