Jimmy Roberts, the first player chosen by the St. Louis Blues in the expansion draft that built their franchise in 1967, died Friday of cancer. He was 75.
Roberts played both defense and forward for the Blues from 1967 to 1972, later joining the team again in 1977-78. Roberts had 63 goals and 157 points in 395 games with the Blues, also contributing nine goals and 18 points in 52 playoff contests.
He helped the Blues reach the Stanley Cup finals in each of their first three seasons in the league and also won five Stanley Cup championships with the Montreal Canadiens.
“The St. Louis Blues and the Blues Alumni organization are deeply saddened by the passing of the original Blue Jimmy Roberts,” the Blues 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.
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“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 played 447 of his 1,159 career games with the Blues, retiring as a player following the 1977-78 season. He finished his NHL career with 126 goals and 320 points in 1,006 games with the Blues and Canadiens. He later coached in Buffalo (1981-82) and Hartford (1991=92) before joining the Blues as an assistant coach in 1996-97. He also served as the Blues interim head coach after Mike Keenan was fired.
Blues forward Jaden Schwartz suffered an undisclosed injury during practice on Friday after colliding with the goalpost, according to the team. He was helped off the ice and later taken to a hospital.
“(It was a) pretty innocent thing,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said on the team web site. “Obviously he couldn’t finish practice, so that’s the first alarm bell that goes off. We sent him to the hospital to get a further evaluation and we’ll give you an exact update on time frame tomorrow.”
Schwartz has four assists in seven games. The Blues recalled forward Ty Rattie from their minor-league affiliate in Chicago, where he has four goals and seven points in three games.
This was the latest injury in a string of them for the Blues.
They are currently without forwards Schwartz, Patrik Berglund (shoulder), Paul Stastny (broken foot) and Robby Fabbri (concussion) and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body).