Vet Roberts likes passing star duties

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:10 AM ET

Like the rest of the hockey world, Gary Roberts admits he's often in awe of Sidney Crosby.

"But I'm not envious," smiled the former Flame, whose latest NHL stop finds him toting a ticket on Crosby's road show.

"The other day we finished practice and I had two hours of nap time and he was still on the ice in his equipment doing eight hours of commercials and photo shoots.

"The commitment he makes to the fans and to the game is impressive.

"He probably does more than Wayne (Gretzky) did 20 years ago because of the attention nowadays. For me, I focus on one thing -- that's trying to play hockey. I couldn't imagine doing what he does every day."

As someone who has played with a number of the games greats over the course of his 20-year career, the 41-year-old winger is unsure where to rank the 20-year-old phenom just yet.

"It's tough for me to compare the (Sergei) Makorovs, the (Mats) Sundins, (Joe) Nieuwendyk, (Ron) Francis -- I've had the chance to play with unbelievable players and role models and Hall of Famers," said Roberts, who spent his first 10 years in Calgary.

"He's in that category. He comes every day and is prepared to push his teammates and it's pretty easy to follow when your best player is your hardest worker."

As for the inevitable comparisons to Wayne Gretzky Crosby received while in Edmonton for his first appearance in Western Canada Wednesday, Roberts says they're warranted.

"To be put in that category is a tremendous honour considering all Wayne did for the game," he said.

"I wasn't sure if the president was in town or Sidney Crosby when we arrived at the hotel in Edmonton. But he does a great job handling it well."

One thing Crosby doesn't get enough credit for, says Roberts, is his physical play.

"He's a power forward, there's no question about it," said Roberts.

"He's not a guy who plays on the perimeter.

"He's battling in the corners and on the boards and comes up with puck 95 percent of the time.

"He goes through people and overtop of them.

"His lower body strength is as good as I've seen and that's the engine that powers his body."

Lost in the Crosby hoopla is the chance of Roberts playing his final game in Calgary last night.


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