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The announcement will officially take place this morning: Gary Roberts, one of the greatest competitors of his generation, will retire from the NHL after 22 years.

This will be the second time Roberts is walking away from the game. The first came 13 years ago with the Calgary Flames, when chronic neck and shoulder injuries convinced him the risk of continuing his hockey career was too great.

That year, Roberts won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which recognizes dedication and perseverance, in what appeared to be his NHL swan song.

It turned out to be a most appropriate honour, given what happened next. Seemingly done at 30 and simply trying to find a way of living life with a minimum of pain, Roberts was eventually referred to Colorado Springs, Colo., chiropractor Michael Leahy who, through a pioneering technique known as active release, miraculously restored him to health.

Or restored his health to a level where, in conjunction with a new-found commitment to fitness and training, Roberts was prepared to try hockey again.

The Carolina Hurricanes thought enough of the intangibles that Roberts could provide, in their first year in a new market after relocating from Hartford, that general manager Jim Rutherford surrendered centre Andrew Cassels, plus a goaltending prospect named Jean-Sébastien Giguère to Calgary to acquire the veteran left winger and goalie Trevor Kidd. Roberts played parts of 12 more NHL seasons after that and, earlier this year, got into his 1,200th career game for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Roberts scored 438 goals and 471 assists in 1,224 regular-season games, while racking up 2,560 penalty minutes.

That Roberts's final NHL game came a week ago Sunday - for Tampa in an 8-6 victory over Calgary - provides a little symmetry to his career.

Roberts, a first-round choice of Calgary in 1984, was hoping he'd get picked up by some team at the trade deadline last week, in the same way he did the year before when the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired him for the stretch drive and into the playoffs. The Pens went all the way to the sixth game of the Stanley Cup final against the Detroit Red Wings before losing out.

Roberts's contract - a base salary of $1.25-million (U.S.), plus a bonus of $10,000 for each game played - proved to be too pricey for any potential suitor. His age, 42, and his injury-filled season was another strike against him.

One quality that separated Roberts from his peer group was his determination - the willingness to work to get better. In his inaugural NHL training camp, under head coach Bob Johnson, he had trouble completing the chin-up drill. Over time, he became one of the league's most dedicated athletes, in terms of his physical conditioning and in learning how to take care of his body.

In one memorable playoff series with the Flames in 1994, Roberts's neck and shoulder issues were so bad that he couldn't lift his arm above his head - but he played on anyway.

One of the primary reasons the Lightning wanted him in their dressing room this season was so his professionalism could rub off on Steve Stamkos, the first player chosen in the 2009 entry draft.

It didn't necessarily end the way Roberts hoped it would: making one last playoff hurrah, in a bid to add a Stanley Cup to the one he won in 1989. That year, Roberts was one of the new kids on the block, as Lanny McDonald, Roberts's childhood hero, carried off the one-and-only Stanley Cup of his career.

Roberts also won two Memorial Cup titles and a Minto Cup, and in 1991-92, became only the second NHLer in history to score 50 goals and accumulate 200 penalty minutes in the same season.

In short, he was both a warrior and a winner, someone who made the players around him better. Not a bad legacy for someone who squeezed the most out of a modest level of talent by sheer force of will.