When he was a 40-something, Penguins teammates – even ones half his age – noted with amazement how he had the fitness and body of an NHL player in his mid-20s. The same as his No. 10 sweater with the Penguins, age was a mere number for Gary Roberts.
So it was no wonder that, after his 21-season career spanning the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, Gary Roberts retired to become a trainer to All-Stars and other athletes.
Nearly seven years after he last played for the Penguins in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals, Roberts returns today to Pittsburgh to be formally introduced by UPMC Sports Medicine officials as the name, face and attitude of the Sports Performance Center at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.
Roberts, 48, will lead the training philosophy, coordinate with the full-time staff, and personally work with athletes of all ages, all sports, all levels. Certainly, given the focus of the facility, hockey players will take part in the center being built above bleachers that overlook both ice surfaces: players from the youth (including the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite program), high school, collegiate, junior and professional strata. The UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, modeled after the Steelers/Pitt relationship with the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine on the South Side, is scheduled to open its doors in August as the Penguins’ practice home, a hockey and sports development, and a public sports-medicine facility with 24 exam rooms, physical therapy areas, imaging and more.
“I love the city and the fans of Pittsburgh,” said Roberts, who, after his NHL sojourn with Calgary, Carolina, Toronto, the Penguins (2006-08) and Tampa Bay, has been refining his philosophies and sharpening his training techniques in his native Toronto with the Gary Roberts High Performance Centre. “I’m thrilled to team up with UPMC to bring philosophies and programs that we’ve put in place to train, develop, and mentor athletes from the youth levels all the way to the professional ranks.”