In the annals of Calgary Flames defenders, a few names immediately come to mind. Al MacInnis and Gary Suter may have been the erstwhile puck-movers and anchors of their team’s attack, but when it comes to bruising defensive blueliners, it boils down to one man – Robyn Regehr.
Following today’s season finale for his Los Angeles Kings, Regehr told reporters his intentions to retire.
Born in Brazil but raised in Saskatchewan, Regehr was originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the 1998 NHL Draft (19th overall). The Kamloops Blazers defender soon saw his rights traded before he even had a chance to play a minute of pro hockey, as he was sent to the Calgary Flames in the February 1999 deal that sent Flames legend Theoren Fleury to the Avalanche. While other pieces came to Calgary in that deal – including Wade Belak and Rene Corbet – Regehr would turn out to be the biggest piece of the puzzle.
Of course, his career was nearly ended before it began when he was involved in a head-on collision on July 4 that year that broke both of his legs. Against all odds, Regehr recovered, played in Flames training camp and actually made the team following a short conditioning stint with the Saint John Flames. He made his NHL debut on October 28, 1999 – just shy of four months after breaking his legs. That game against Ottawa was the first of 827 regular season games he’d play for the Flames.
Only Jarome Iginla has played more games for the Calgary Flames than Robyn Regehr.
Big, burly and a tough player to get around, Regehr rose to prominence with the Flames as one of the league’s preeminent defensive defenders. His side of the ice was affectionately nicknamed “The Tunnel of Death,” and wingers on his side were regularly steamrolled into the boards trying to creep around him with the puck. He was also an accomplished shot blocker. His career highlights with Calgary were the 2004 Stanley Cup Final run and his appearance in the 2006 Winter Olympics for Team Canada.
Over time, Regehr’s physical style of play took his toll and he lost a bit of his foot-speed. He was traded by Calgary to the Buffalo Sabres at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft – agreeing to waive his no-trade clause for the betterment of the team – in a move that sent Paul Byron and Chris Butler to the Flames.
Regehr eventually found his way to the Los Angeles Kings, where he helped the Kings win the 2014 Stanley Cup – although he missed much of the 2014 playoffs due to injury. He was the third former member of the 2004 Flames team to win a Cup, following Mike Commodore in 2006 and Andrew Ference in 2011.
Best of luck in retirement, Robyn. Thanks for all the memories.