ST. LOUIS (AP) Jimmy Roberts, a five-time Stanley Cup champion with the Montreal Canadiens and an original member of the St. Louis Blues, died Friday. He was 75.
The Blues confirmed Roberts died after battling cancer. Roberts was scheduled to drop the ceremonial puck Saturday night before the Blues' Hockey Fights Cancer Night game against the New York Islanders.
Playing both defense and forward, Roberts had 126 goals and 194 assists in 1,006 regular-season games with Montreal and St. Louis. The longtime Scotty Bowman protege had 20 goals and 16 assists in 153 playoff games, helping the Canadiens win titles in 1965, 1966, 1973, 1976 and 1977. Roberts was the first player taken by St. Louis in the 1967 expansion draft and helped the Blues reach the Stanley Cup finals in each of their first three seasons. He was a three-time All-Star.
''The St. Louis Blues and the Blues Alumni organization are deeply saddened by the passing of the original Blue Jimmy Roberts,'' the team said in a statement. ''Jimmy was the franchise's first-ever draft pick and was instrumental in building the foundation of Blues hockey as a player and upholding its tradition as an alumnus. His tireless contributions to St. Louis, the Blues and the game of hockey as a whole will forever live as an example for future generations to follow. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Judy, and their two daughters.''
Roberts was an NHL head coach with Buffalo and Hartford, going 45-21-16 in 1981-82 with the Sabres and 26-41-13 in 1991-92 with the Whalers. He was 3-3-3 as St. Louis' interim head coach in 1996-97.
Roberts also was an assistant coach with the Sabres, Whalers and Blues, and led the Springfield Indians to Calder Cup titles in the American Hockey League in 1990 and 1991.
''Jimmy was a tremendous competitor. I played against him and he played hard,'' said Craig Ramsey, a former Buffalo player who works as a consultant for the Canadiens. ''When he came here, he was just as intense as a coach. It took him a couple years to get past his playing days, but I had the utmost admiration for Jimmy. As a person, he wanted you to be successful. He was doing everything he could to have the players do their best. I really enjoyed working with him and I admired him a lot.''
Roberts first played for Bowman with the junior Peterborough Petes.