Saturday, October 2, 2010
Gordie Roberts, born on this date in Detroit, Michigan in 1957, was named after legendary Detroit Red Wings star Gordie Howe.
Drafted 54th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft, Roberts instead signed with the New England Whalers of the rival World Hockey Association as an underage 17-year-old at a time when players entering the NHL were required to be a minimum of 20 years old.
In Roberts third season in New England, the 1977-78 season, the defenseman would become teammates with the very same Gordie Howe whom he was named after! He would also set a career highs with 15 goals, 46 assists and 61 points that season.
Gordie Roberts and Gordie Howe
After one more season in the WHA, the Whalers would become members of the National Hockey League and change their name to the Hartford Whalers. After one full season with the Whalers in the NHL, Roberts would be traded to the Minnesota North Stars after 27 games of the 1980-81 season.
Once in Minnesota he became and integral part of the North Stars defensive corps for eight seasons, as well as a fan favorite for his rugged style of play for a team on the rise following the North Stars merger with the Cleveland Barons in 1978. His highest offensive output in eight seasons in Minnesota was 1983-84 when he reached 53 points for the only time in the NHL.
Roberts as a member of the North Stars
Roberts was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for a brief period of time in 1988, who dealt him to the St. Louis Blues after only 11 games. He would play two full seasons in St. Louis before another move, this time to the surging Pittsburgh Penguins early in the 1990-91 season. While a member of the Penguins, Roberts would win back to back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.
Now a free agent, he would sign a contract with the Boston Bruins where he would play 124 games over two seasons, which would include his 1,000th NHL game, making him the first American-born player to ever reach that milestone of longevity.
Roberts would continue to play in 1994-95 with the Chicago Wolves of the International Hockey League and spend his final season as a professional back in Minnesota, only this time with the Minnesota Moose, also of the IHL, before retiring.
His final NHL totals were 1,097 games played, 61 goals and 359 assists for 420 points which followed his 311 games in the WHA where he scored 42 goals and 144 assists for a total of 186 points, which combined gave him over 100 goals and 600 points.
Internationally, Roberts made three appearances for the United States, twice at the World Championships in 1982 and 1987, as well as the 1984 Canada Cup.
Roberts was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999.
Today's featured jersey is a 1980-81 Minnesota North Stars Gordie Roberts jersey as worn during Roberts first season in Minnesota. It would be the only season in which he would wear this style jersey, as the North Stars would revamp their jerseys for the following season by removing the green shoulders and adding black trim for a more menacing look.
Our first video today is Roberts all over the ice while playing for the New England Whalers, picking up the puck behind his own net and eventually corralling it behind the Houston Aeros goal, whereupon he centers to Mark Howe for a goal.
In this classic footage from the record setting penalty filled game in Boston, Brad McCrimmon of the Bruins beats up Greg Smith's fist with his face. McCrimmon apparently has not suffered enough abuse, and comes back for more, which Roberts is more than happy to dispense.