MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In Minnesota, it’s not uncommon to see former NHL players now coaching. That’s the case this season at Elk River.

When longtime coach Tony Sarsland left, there was a need for someone with immediate credibility.

Enter Gordie Roberts, a former North Star and a winner of a Stanley Cup.

He sits behind the bench watching his team play. Roberts has never left hockey. Coaching Elk River is just the latest chapter.

“I got back into coaching two years ago at Hamline,” he said. “I enjoyed it, and then this opportunity as a head coach came along.”

His players perhaps never saw him play, but they know the stories of him drinking from the Stanley Cup.

“I’ve got a lot of experience and situations to lean on,” he said.

In fact, he uses his career as a player to teach lessons, having collected sticks from some of the greatest – like Wayne Gretzky.

Roberts is joined on his staff by Bruce Johnson, a former head coach at Robbinsdale-Armstrong and assistant at Augsburg College. The two are veterans yet Johnson is still learning from his boss.

“There’s a Gordism that I get,” Johnson said. “And it’s always: I’ve got a tip. And whether it’s for me or it’s for the kids…that’s kind of his language.”

It seems a good fit to be coaching at the high school level, and at this stage of his career and
life. It’s nice to be around the game, coaching a good team.


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