There is a small group of NHL players that have maintained their indomitable status long after their active duty: Messier, Yzerman, and Clarke are some of the most notable. But the leader of that group, in my humble opinion, is Gary Roberts. “Scary Gary” (as his teammates affectionately called him), has long maintained his tough-as-nails persona through his gritty play on the ice, his extensive playing career, and on into his new career as an elite hockey trainer & nutritionist. He is one of those rare players that is revered by fans in every city he played in. Here’s some great You Tube proof of his toughness and longevity:
I was one of those rabid Gary fans when he played in Toronto. He had an epic game winning goal, scored in triple overtime, during the 2002 Stanley Cup playoffs for the Leafs, which cemented my, as well as Toronto’s, admiration for him. Here it is, for your pure viewing pleasure:
In fact, after that goal was scored, my family and I went out for a long hike in the woods on a new piece of land we were just discovering. During that hike, we found a little secluded lake. With Gary’s goal fresh in our hearts, we named it Roberts Lake. I couldn’t help but tell Gary the story, and he got a kick out of it.
I was commissioned to photograph Gary for a dry land training regimen for hockey players that he had developed for Nike. Our shoot was in a older arena here in Toronto, which we used as an authentic backdrop in some of our other set-ups. Nike needed a gritty, off-season location, and we found it in a seldom used community arena in Toronto’s west end. Here’s a shot of our on-site portrait studio which we used for the photo at the intro of this post: