Gary Roberts retires just as his old team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, spent the last two weeks trying to bring a little Gary Roberts back to the locker room. His presence last season on that Pittsburgh Stanley Cup bridesmaid was palpable. As we wrote in the summer, when the Penguins decided to jettison him: "On a team filled with its share of talented newbies, Roberts was the crusty, veteran spiritual leader; it's like if Clint Eastwood was added to the cast of 'Gossip Girl.'"
Chris Kunitz, Bill Guerin, Craig Adams ... these guys brought back some of the North American sandpaper that left town with guys like Roberts; now it's back on the roster thanks to Ray Shero coming to his senses.
The "What Would Gary Roberts Do?" bracelet pictured here was sold by The Pensblog and became a late-career hockey pop culture moment for Roberts. That sort of adulation as an over-40 player on a Stanley Cup contender probably wasn't on Roberts's radar when he retired the first time back in 1996 with a career-threatening neck injury. But no one worked harder to hang around longer than Roberts has.
He would have retired anyway at the end of the season, and it's a little depressing that the end comes in a disastrous season for the Lightning that saw him placed on waivers before the deadline. But for a generation of fans that saw him win a Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames and then have a career renaissance with the Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and the Penguins, today marks another one of those "they don't make'em like the used to" players skating away from the NHL.