Gordie Roberts

Gordie Roberts was drafted by Montreal in the 1977 Entry Draft (7th choice, 54th overall) but never played for the Habs. He actually began his pro hockey career in 1975 with the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association. Playing against and later with the likes of Gordie Howe, Dave Keon, Bobby Hull and other superstars in the WHA was a tremendous boost to Roberts development as a player.

"It was a great learning experience" said Roberts, who's father named him after his favorite hockey player - the great Gordie Howe.

Over four seasons with the Whalers before the WHA and NHL merged in 1979-80 Roberts totaled 42 goals, 144 assists and 186 points in 311 games. In back to back seasons, 1977-78 and 1978-79, he led all WHA defensemen in scoring.

The WHA and NHL merged in 1979 and Roberts was claimed by Hartford from Montreal, who still held his NHL rights, in 1979 Expansion Draft.

Gordie played a season and a half with the NHL's version of the Whalers before being traded to the Minnesota North Stars. A rugged and dependable rearguard, Roberts was best known as a North Star as he played 8 years in Minnesota where he was a fan favorite. He was a big part of a young Stars team that went to the Finals in 1981, but couldn't seem to recapture their early success. His best NHL campaign came in 1983-84 when he scored eight goals, 45 assists and 53 points.

After Minnesota, Roberts played part of one season with the Philadelphia Flyers before spending parts of four seasons with the St. Louis Blues. Gordie was then traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1990-91 campaign where he helped the Penguins to consecutive Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992. Those Cups rank at the top of Gordie's long highlight list. Ironically the 1991 championship came at the expense of the North Stars, who made a Cinderella run to the finals.

Gordie, who followed in the footsteps of older brother Doug to play in the NHL (419 games played), joined the Boston Bruins for two more seasons to round out his playing career. One of the highlights of Roberts' career came in Boston when he became the first U.S.-born player in league history to play in 1,000 games (with Boston on Dec. 9, 1992 at Buffalo).

He attended the San Jose Sharks training camp in 1995 but decided to hang up his blades after posting 1 assist in 7 pre-season games.

In his 16 seasons in the NHL, the steady defenseman recorded 61 goals, 359 assists and 420 points in 1,097 regular season games. Roberts added 57 points in 153 playoff contests. Roberts did play a couple seasons in the minors after his NHL days were done, finishing his career in Minnesota with the IHL Moose. He effectively served as a playing coach and would later go on to various levels of coaching and management. He will be best remembered as a defenseman who played a conservative and reliable positional game. He was never much of an offensive threat in the National Hockey League, despite being a good skater. He preferred to take care of his own end where he was a willing if not a punishing physical presence. He was good at making a quick outlet pass to create a nice transition offense opportunity. He had the coolest set of nerves you'll ever see. He'd hang to the puck calmly no matter who was forechecking hard in on him, and just when you would think it is too late, he'd make a clever little pass.

In addition to the two Stanley Cups, Roberts can proudly claim he represented his native United States in two World Hockey Championships and the 1984 Canada Cup. He is also a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame


Paul Allan July 29, 2012 at 6:35 PM  

I remember watching him play for Victoria of the WCHL. A very good skater and also unique in that at the time he was one of a few Americans playing major junior in Western Canada.

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