Complete non-Sens

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

Gary Roberts made it pretty clear.

The veteran winger stood outside the door to the Pittsburgh Penguins dressing room yesterday morning, backed up against the wall by the crush of cameras and microphones.

He said the right things, but it was clear: If things had gone the way he wanted on trade deadline day a week ago, he would have been about 100 feet down the hall at Scotiabank Place.

Roberts wanted to be an Ottawa Senator. He made that clear to Florida Panthers coach and GM Jacques Martin, that a return to Ontario was what he wanted.

Roberts had a no-trade clause, so he could veto a move he didn't like.

"That was the indication I gave (Martin), that (Toronto and Ottawa) would be the two choices for me at that time," said Roberts, who changed his mind when it became clear Toronto and Ottawa weren't interested in paying the price to obtain his veteran presence and his tireless work ethic both on and off the ice.

After talking to Penguins owner Mario Lemieux, GM Ray Shero and Pens veteran Mark Recchi on the eve of the deadline -- they clearly went to the top to convince him to okay the deal -- Roberts recognized the Penguins represented his only chance at winning a second Stanley Cup.

"My good buddy Joe Nieuwendyk retired and he has three Stanley Cups," said Roberts. "I told him I wasn't going to retire until I get two, at least, so I have my work cut out for me."

He knows there was a strong contingent here in Ottawa -- both inside and outside the Senators organization -- that wanted to see him in a Senators uniform.

Senators GM John Muckler opted for forward Oleg Saprykin instead.

Roberts went to the Penguins, who have little playoff experience, but they do have Sidney Crosby.

"A lot of people say they don't have a lot of experience, but sometimes green is good. Sometimes not having failures in the playoffs is not such a bad thing," said Roberts (hey, is that a reference to the Senators?)

"I think they said we have 16 guys who haven't played a playoff game, something like that. Hopefully that will be a good thing for us. Hopefully guys will be loose. It's been real fun for me. It's been a breath of fresh air and I'm excited to be part of it."

The 40-year-old Roberts, obtained for prospect defenceman Noah Welch (the Senators couldn't do better than that?) has already paid dividends for the Penguins. He had three points in their 4-3 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday.

"He's been in the playoffs a lot and he's a winner, so he's a huge addition for our team," said Crosby, who noted the message from Shero, the rookie GM, resonated in the dressing room.

Roberts has been placed in a stall right in the middle of the Penguins dressing room at home, a conscious decision to make him a focal point in the room (he's next to rookie Evgeni Malkin and three over from Crosby).

Penguins coach Michel Therrien said the Roberts deal will pay dividends now and in the future, long after Roberts has moved on.

"He's a true leader. He's a hard guy to play against. He led the team to get that win (Sunday). It seems like he's on a mission. At 40 years old, you have to give that guy a lot of credit. He doesn't play for fun. He's playing for real," said Therrien.

"There's a purpose to every game. When you're talking about true professionals, Gary Roberts is right there. It's a great opportunity for our young kids to have a teammate like Gary Roberts.

"Not only is he going to help our team right now, it's going to help our team with those young kids in the future."

Too bad for the Senators.

They could have been saying the same thing.


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