DETROIT – Gary Roberts tried to bite his tongue on the eve of the Stanley Cup final, visibly upset after Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Michel Therrien told him he wouldn’t be in the lineup for the opening game Saturday night.”Obviously, I’m not happy about it but I’m going to let Mike talk about why I’m not playing,” Roberts said.
Therrien was not asked about Roberts during his news conference Friday but later told a reporter that the media would find out after the pre-game skate Saturday whether Roberts was in or not.
Roberts let the cat out of the bag.
“I’ve been told I’m not playing tomorrow night,” said Roberts. “But it’s not the time for me to bitch and complain. I’ve enjoyed being around this group of guys. I’ve had a trying year, health wise, not the year I wanted to have.
“But I’m excited to be here and be part of this thing. Hopefully at some point I’ll get that chance.”
Roberts missed the final three games of the Eastern Conference final with a mild case of pneumonia. He says he’s since recovered.
“The rest has been great for me and I feel like I’m ready to go,” said Roberts. “But you know what, it’s not about me right now. It’s about the team.
“One thing I will say, if I do get the chance, I won’t let my teammates down.”
Roberts, who turned 42 on Friday, has played six of his team’s 14 playoff games, also missing time with a groin injury in the opening two rounds. He has two goals and one assist playing on the team’s fourth line with Maxime Talbot and Georges Laraque.
Detroit’s elder statesman also appears out for Game 1.
“I don’t think I’ll be playing the first game,” said Wings defenceman Chris Chelios, who missed the last game against Dallas with an apparent leg injury. “Whether it’s superstition or not, they’re not changing (anything). We played a really good game to close out the last series.
“I’m good to go. I’m ready to go.”
Wings forward Johan Franzen likely won’t suit up in Game 1 either. He still leads the team with 12 goals despite missing the last five games of the Western Conference final with a concussion.
“He’s doubtful for Game 1,” said Wings GM Ken Holland. “We expect him in the series. He’s day to day, he’s close.”
Head coach Mike Babcock said Franzen looked good in practice on Friday, his first with the team since being knocked out of the lineup.
“He’s flying around, going 100 miles an hour,” said Babcock. “Looks like 100 bucks, no side effects.”
Franzen doesn’t want to rush it and agrees one more game, at least, won’t hurt.
“I think it’s the right way to go,” said Franzen. “I need to get my legs back. I don’t want to hurt the team I want to try and help the team when I come back.”