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Nearly seven years after he last played in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Gary Roberts returned to Pittsburgh as the name, face and attitude of the Sports Performance Center at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.
Roberts oversees the philosophy and off-ice training regimen at the Sports Performance Center that, while straddling both rinks at the complex, focuses on hockey but encompass athletes of every sport. He also will consult with the full-time UPMC staff who, along with him, work personally with players from every echelon of hockey – professional, collegiate, junior, youth (including the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite) – as well as athletes of all ages and levels. There also is a program for business executives.
Since last playing in the NHL with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2008-09 following his two Penguins seasons, Roberts has been sharpening and refining his techniques in his native Toronto with the Gary Roberts High Performance Centre, which he will continue to operate. He was a natural fit for the trailblazing, hybrid complex bearing the name of his friend and former team’s co-owner, Mario Lemieux.
Late in his career, Roberts was acknowledged by teammates and opponents to possess the fitness and body of a player half his age. Roberts, who entered the NHL as a first-round draft pick of the Calgary Flames in 1984, provided a physical and emotional presence as well as a scoring touch in amassing 438 goals, 910 points and 2,560 penalty minutes in a 1,224 regular-season game career with the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, the Penguins and the Lightning. He scored 28 points in 57 regular-season games with the Penguins in 2006-07 and 2007-08, then added four goals and eight points in 16 total playoff games during that time – between the ages of 40 and 42.