Gordon Douglas Roberts - Born October 2, 1957 in Detroit, Michigan is an American retired professional ice hockey defenceman, scout and coach.
Growing up in HockeyTown Detroit, Roberts would eventually play his junior Hockey for the Detroit Jr. Red Wings.
Roberts played 1 season (1974-75) with the Victoria Cougars of the Western Canada Hockey League / WCHL, helping the Cougars finish 1st in the West during the regular season, but Victoria would lose in the league semi-final during the playoffs.
At age 18, Roberts then turned pro with the World Hockey Association / WHA New England Whalers, and would later play with a Hockey Idol - Gordie Howe, with whom he was named after. Roberts played 4 seasons with New England, and stayed with the team when they joined the NHL as the Hartford Whalers. He played in 1977 and 1978 WHA All-Star Games. He was good at making a quick outlet pass to create a nice transition offense opportunity, while also very patient and calm with the puck, even while being forechecked. Roberts also played a tough defensive game.
Roberts first got to play with Gordie Howe during the 1977-78 season, when he joined the Whalers. Howe had a strong performance during the 1978 WHA playoffs, as New England reached the WHA championship finals, but losing to the Winnipeg Jets.
On December 16, 1980, the Whalers traded Roberts to the Minnesota North Stars for Mike Fidler. Roberts helped the North Stars reach the Stanley Cup finals (1981) his first season there. Minnesota also made it to the 1984 Stanley Cup semi-finals. He remained a North Star for eight seasons before moving to the Philadelphia Flyers in 1988, who promptly traded him to the St. Louis Blues after only 11 games.
During this time, Roberts also played for Team USA in the 1984 Canada Cup as well as the 1982 and 1987 IIHF World Championship tournaments.
Roberts played for St. Louis for the next 3 full seasons, helping the the Blues reach the playoffs each year. At the beginning of the 1990-91 season, Roberts who had only 1 assist for the Blues after 3 games, was sent down to their minor league affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen in the International Hockey League / IHL, but after playing just 6 games (8 assists), legendary coach, Scotty Bowman the Pittsburgh Penguins’ director of player personnel, had been scouting Roberts in Peoria, and the defenseman was soon on his way to Pittsburgh, where he proved a calming influence on the blue line. Mostly paired with Larry Murphy (after his arrival in December), Roberts prided himself on being a steady, move-the-puck defensive player. Roberts ended up leading the Penguins at plus-18.
“I think I became kind of a top-six guy and played a lot more minutes than probably what I thought when I first went there,” he said, “and I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
In the playoffs, Roberts was the only Penguins defenseman to play in all 24 postseason games.
The Stanley Cup Finals proved to be special to Roberts, who had played eight seasons with the North Stars – including a trip to the Finals in 1981 — and lived in Minnesota during the offseason.
The first five games in the Finals had been close, until Game 6 when the Penguins’ offense hit a new level.
“I almost felt sorry for the North Stars about halfway through the game when the floodgates opened up,” Roberts said, “and it was an embarrassing loss for the team and the franchise - (8-0), as Pittsburgh won the 1991 Stanley Cup championship. Roberts had 1 goals, 2 assists during the playoffs, and a career high 63 penalty minutes.
Roberts Quote: "I had my dad there and family, my wife, and friends that came down afterwards. For me to win in Minnesota was, if we couldn’t win in Pittsburgh, it was the second best place to win a Cup. It worked out really well"
Roberts played for the Penguins for 1 more season, also winning the 1992 Stanley Cup.
Roberts then signed with the Boston Bruins, where he played his final 2 NHL seasons, helping the Bruins reach the conference semi-finals during the 1994 playoffs.
Roberts finished off his playing career with 2 seasons in the International Hockey League / IHL, first with the Chicago Wolves in 1994-95 and then with the Minnesota Moose in 1995-96.
Roberts was the first U.S. born Hockey player to play 1,000 games in the NHL and also played over 300 games in the World Hockey Association / WHA for the New England Whalers, totaling over 1,400 combined professional games and registering a combined point total of 606 points.
In 1997, Roberts was hired as the Director of Player Development and an Assistant Coach with the Phoenix Coyotes, where he stayed 5 years, and then worked as a scout for the Montreal Canadiens for 9 years.
Gordie Roberts was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999.
Roberts was one of the featured players for the Hartford Whalers legends vs. Boston Bruins legends game February 19, 2011 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
Roberts started coaching the defensemen at Hamline University in 2010 for 2 seasons before joining the Elk River High School as the boys varsity coach for 4 years.