This coming May is the 40th anniversary of the Atlanta Flames moving to Calgary. To commemorate this occasion, we’re counting down the Top 40 Calgary Flames in history.
#8 on the list is Gary Roberts.
The 1984 NHL Draft was a gorgeous haul for the Flames. Outside of the first round, they grabbed Paul Ranheim, Brett Hull, Jiri Hrdina and Gary Suter. But Roberts, their first rounder, was easily the best guy they landed. A star with the Ottawa 67’s, he boasted smarts, skill and grit.
He made his NHL debut in 1986-87 and became a full-timer in 1987-88. He started off slowly – his 28 point output in ’87-’88 was 13th on the team – but he quietly became established as one of the team’s toughest forwards to play against and one of their most consistently dangerous offensive weapons.
After becoming a full-timer, Roberts rattled off three 20 goal seasons, two 30 goal seasons, a 40 goal year and a 50 goal year. During that span, he had five seasons with 200 or more penalty minutes and another two north of 100 minutes. Much like Matthew Tkachuk does today, Roberts had a knack for getting under the opposition’s skin and forcing the other team’s skill players into a trench war. When the other team was worried about clobbering Roberts, it made it hard to contain the team’s offensive weapons.
Of course, trench warfare is taxing on the bodies in the trenches. Roberts missed big chunks of 1995-96 and 1996-97 due to a neck injury – a decent amount of the logic behind trading him to Carolina was the lesser travel schedule would extend his career. Roberts’ trade to the Canes stung for long-time Flames fans, as he was a big part of the DNA of the team. But before injuries got the better of him, he was easily one of the smartest, most sneaky skilled players in club history.
He’s #8 on our countdown.
Arrival: Selected in the first round, 12th overall, in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft (June 9, 1984)
Departure: Traded with Trevor Kidd to Carolina for Andrew Cassels and Jean-Sebastien Giguere (August 25, 1997)
Awards: 1989 Stanley Cup winner; 1995-96 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy winner
Top 40 Calgary Flames: HM Martin Gelinas | HM Al Coates | HM Bob Johnson | HM Darryl Sutter | HM Cliff Fletcher | #40 Brad Marsh | #39 Matt Stajan | #38 Jiri Hudler | #37 Dion Phaneuf | #36 Guy Chouinard | #35 Phil Housley | #34 Matthew Tkachuk | #33 Cory Stillman | #32 Curtis Glencross | #31 Jamie Macoun | #30 Carey Wilson | #29 Reggie Lemelin | #28 TJ Brodie | #27 Alex Tanguay | #26 Daymond Langkow | #25 Sergei Makarov | #24 Craig Conroy | #23 Robert Reichel | #22 Paul Reinhart | #21 Doug Gilmour | #20 Mikael Backlund | #19 Jim Peplinski | #18 Joel Otto | #17 Tim Hunter | #16 Joe Mullen | #15 Sean Monahan | #14 Robyn Regehr | #13 Mike Vernon | #12 Kent Nilsson | #11 Hakan Loob | #10 Lanny McDonald | #9 Johnny Gaudreau