Gary Roberts: This is my last year
The most interesting thing to come out of the Thursday's morning skate (well, the morning meeting, there wasn't really a skate) is that left wing Gary Roberts will retire after this season. Not earth-shattering, I know. He is 42 years old and battling a left elbow injury that has bothered him since Nov. 18. But the guy has had such a notable career with 436 career goals in 21 seasons, three All-Star games and a Stanley Cup win in 1989 with the Flames, it is worth logging in.
"I don't think there's any doubt, I'm gone after this season," Roberts said. "I'm going to retire. I'd like to finish on a god note. I'd like to come back and prove I can play and hopefully stay healthy enough to finish the season and finish playing a stretch of games and at least have some success. I'd like to finish on a high note."
It's been a frustrating season for Roberts, who began the season as a fourth-line player, and without much special teams duties (he was not a Barry Melrose favorite) was playing, mostly, between seven and 10 minutes a game. He has two goals, scored in one game, and since Nov. 18 has been bothered, he said, by a groin injury he has said is healed, but more so a left elbow problem that has forced him from 11 of the past 12 games. Roberts said further evaluation will be done to see exactly what is going on in his elbow and how it can be addressed.
"When you're hurt, you're not as much part of it, whether you're a young guy or an older guy, that doesn't change," Roberts said. "I pay close attention to the game and I do learn a lot, even at 42 years old, I learn something watching the games, so I really tried to watch the games closely and get a feel for what I think I need to do to be successful. still believe I can play. It's just, will my body allow me the opportunity to show that I can play?"
It's been a tough two seasons for Roberts, who played just 38 games last season for the Penguins because of a broken leg and torn up ankle. Roberts said this season, in that context, especially, has been very frustrating.
Whatever the rest of the season holds, though, Roberts was pretty adamant, "I don't think there's any doubt this will be my last year," he said. "I just hope I can finish on a good note."
Other stuff from the morning gathering: Coach Rick Tocchet said the reason the team did not skate, other than a few guys who decided to briefly loosen their legs, was because of the three off days of heavy practice. "I just thought, 'Keep them off the ice to save energy,' " he said. ... Center Jussi Jokinen, with zero goals in 14 games said he has been bothered by an injury he would not disclose but is believed to be a knee. "it's not ice to play when every stride hurts you," he said. ... Center Jeff Halpern, in his first game tonight since May's reconstructive knee surgery joked, "It's been so long I just tried to figure out what I do on game days." ... After three days of practice and talks with captain Vinny Lecavalier and other members of the team leadership group such as Mark Recchi, Ryan Malone, Mike Smith and Marty St. Louis, Tocchet said tonight's game, after Saturday's embarrassing 2-0 loss to the Senators, "a pressure game." Of the leadership group, Tocchet said, "This game is one them." ... As expected, goalie Karri Ramo was called up from AHL Norfolk to back up Smith. Olie Kolzig has an upper body injury Tocchet said is not serious. ... C Zenon Konopka was re-assigned to Norfolk.