TAMPA — All things being equal, Gary Roberts said, he would have liked to have been told before he was put on waivers that it was going to happen.
"That could have been handled differently," the Lightning left wing said. "But I understand at this time of year, they have a lot of guys to worry about, and things happen in a hurry."
And all of a sudden, the end of a 21-year perhaps Hall of Fame career is racing toward him.
Roberts, 42, has said this will be his last season. If he is not claimed at noon today, and Tampa Bay cannot make a trade in the remaining three hours until the deadline, his last season will be spent playing for pride rather than a second Stanley Cup title.
Nothing against the Lightning, but that is a bit depressing.
"It's not exactly the way you want it to end if you don't get picked up," said Roberts, who broke into the league in 1986 with the Flames and helped Calgary to the 1989 Cup.
"It's tough to go on waivers, for sure. The game has been great to me. I'll never leave with a sour taste in my mouth, but hopefully there's an opportunity for me to play some more hockey after (today) at 3 o'clock."
GM Brian Lawton said he tried but could not trade Roberts and put him on waivers after "a couple of teams had spoken to us about potentially picking him up. … With Gary it's about treating him with respect, and trying to find a place he would enjoy being that has a legitimate chance of making a playoff run."
"I have some optimism in my heart," Roberts said. "But in my head, I'm not so sure."
SMITH WANTS TO PLAY: Mike Smith said he would like to play again this season.
"If I can play, I'd like to," said the goalie, out since Jan. 30 because of post-concussion syndrome. "I haven't played that many games as a starter. Any games I play are experience."
HEWARD SKATES: D Jamie Heward skated in full pads for the first time since Jan. 1, when he was concussed by a hit to the head from Alex Ovechkin.
"It's huge," Heward said after the 30-minute outing. "It's the next step in the progression."
Heward, 37, wants to play this season in case he retires.
"I don't want that to be my last game, getting carted off on a stretcher," he said.
NO DOWNIE DECISION: The AHL made no announcement about Norfolk RW Steve Downie, alleged to have slashed a linesman Saturday. League spokesman Jason Chaimovitch said there was no timetable.
F Paul Szczechura, who played for the Admirals on Saturday, said any contact Downie had with linesman Mike Hamilton in the game with Hershey was unintentional.
"It was a faceoff and he hit the puck," Szczechura said. "I don't think he meant to do it."
SURGERIES SUCCESSFUL: Surgeries on Ds Paul Ranger and Andrej Meszaros to repair torn labrums in their left shoulders came off "with no surprises," Lawton said. The arthroscopic procedures were done in Birmingham, Ala., by noted orthopedist James Andrews.
ODDS AND ENDS: D Cory Muprhy played after flying from Florida's east coast. Murphy, previously with the Panthers, was with wife Natalie, who on Monday delivered daughter Keira Layne, 7 pounds, 13 ounces. … D Marek Malik (foot) was scratched. … Eight goals Saturday against the Flames set a team road record. … F Brandon Segal played his first NHL game.