Penguins Notebook: Roberts says it's likely his last Cup run
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Gary Roberts did not announce his intention to retire yesterday.
He simply stated the obvious: That it's unlikely he'll make it to another Stanley Cup final after the series between the Penguins and Detroit, which resumes with Game 4 at 8:08 p.m. today at Mellon Arena, is over.
"Deep down, I know this is probably the last time for me," Roberts said.
Roberts, 42, will be an unrestricted free agent July 1 and, because of the Penguins' salary-cap situation, seems almost certain to play elsewhere in 2008-09, assuming he doesn't decide to give up the game.
When he moves on, Roberts will be leaving a fan base that has embraced him with passion and intensity that rivals those Roberts brings to his work. He has, since being acquired from Florida at the trade deadline in 2007, not only been a leader on the team, but an iconic figure to its fan base.
"It really has been a great thing for me here," he said. "The fans have treated me great, and I've enjoyed playing here.
"[The adulation] is flattering. A little embarrassing at times, because I haven't been as a big a part of it this year as I would have liked to have been. I get a few jabs from my teammates, but it's all in fun."
The jabs -- and uppercuts, and right crosses -- he gives to opposing players, along with other forms of physical punishment, are delivered with considerably more malice. For while Roberts' career is winding down, his competitive fire still burns white-hot.
Of course, that's pretty much the case with everyone on both teams at this point, which might be why Roberts doesn't feel compelled to have long, inspirational talks with his teammates.
"At this point, not much needs to be said," he said. "Our guys know the importance of Game 4. We got back into the series [with a 3-2 victory in Game 3], but it's just one win. We have three more wins to go after.
"We know we're up against a great club. The first two games, it didn't look like we were going to make it a series, obviously. We've made it a series, and now it's up to us to continue with momentum."
Rookie defenseman Kris Letang had his place in the Penguins' lineup taken away before Game 3.
Thursday, he lost something far more significant when one of his best friends, Vancouver defenseman Luc Bourdon, was killed in a motorcycle accident in northern New Brunswick.
"When you lose someone close like that, you can't do much," said Letang, who played junior hockey with Bourdon for two seasons. "It's so tough to me. ... This morning, I had no energy. Even if I wanted to skate, I couldn't ... it's like I lost so much energy when it happened."
Letang said he last spoke with Bourdon Tuesday, when Bourdon purchased the motorcycle on which he died after it veered into the path of an oncoming truck.
"He was pretty excited," Letang said. "He's a guy who had fun with sports stuff, like Sea-Doos and sport cars and whatever.
"We talked about it. We know it was dangerous, but he had fun with it. I know he didn't ... speed with it. He just had a bad move or something. Those things, you have no second chance."
Letang said he and Bourdon had planned to vacation and train together this summer.
There will be a moment of silence for Bourdon before the game tonight.
Turns out Mellon Arena isn't the only venue where fans can watch games in the Cup final on oversized video screens.
The arena in Sidney Crosby's hometown of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, is showing the games on large projection screens, and officials there have asked the Penguins for a batch of the white towels distributed to fans here before every game.
Admission to the arena is by donation at the door, with proceeds benefiting the local youth hockey association.
Millions of children have grown up dreaming of scoring a game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup final.
And while few likely saw themselves doing it the way Adam Hall did in Game 3, when he banked a shot into the net off the backside of Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood, he wasn't about to quibble over the details.
"There's no one way you dream about scoring it," Hall said. "You just kind of dream about the celebration, your teammates rushing in.
"You never get to pick and choose what situation you end up in. You just do everything you can out there, and [it's] just a great feeling."
Penguins coach Michel Therrien said he plans no lineup changes for Game 4. ... The Wheeling Nailers, the Penguins' ECHL affiliate, issued a news release noting that their Zamboni has been selected to back up the Mellon Arena Zambonis during the Cup final.
First Published May 31, 2008 12:00 am