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The Calgary Flames should (eventually) retire Robyn Regehr’s number

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
8 months ago
On March 2, 2024, the Calgary Flames will retire Mikka Kiprusoff’s number 34. When it comes to jersey retirements, there’s no clear-cut requirement that qualifies a player. Generally-speaking, it’s meant to commemorate the individual accomplishments of a key individual in franchise history, and allows the hockey club and its fans to enjoy some good vibes for a few days while retiring a number. It’s part commemorating history, part lifetime achievement award, part marketing event.
It’s currently in use by a pretty damn good player, but eventually the Flames should retire Robyn Regehr’s number 28.
Not only was Regehr a really good player, he’s a really good story. Born in Brazil while his parents were doing missionary work – younger brother Richie, who played 2o games for the Flames, was born in Indonesia – but his family settled in Rosthern, Saskatchewan.
Regehr grew up big and burly and developed into a strong young defenceman and was a standout for the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers. Despite not being an offensive powerhouse, Regehr was the 19th overall pick in the 1998 NHL Draft, selected by the Colorado Avalanche. But he didn’t play a single game for the Avalanche organization as he was packaged to Calgary as part of the Theoren Fleury trade as a player to be named later – the Flames were given a list of Colorado prospects and he was chosen in March 1999, a month after the main trade.
However, that July, Regehr was involved in a serious car accident that broke both of his legs. Initially, doctors were skeptical that he’d ever play hockey again, which eventually morphed into skepticism that he’d play at all during the 1999-2000 season. But Regehr recovered faster than anticipated, to the point where he actually attended Flames training camp, albeit with limited on-ice participation. He spent a month with the Flames’ AHL team in Saint John, playing five games, and made his NHL debut at the end of October. He never played another minor league game.
Carving out a similar role as he had in the WHL as a no-frills, no-nonsense, physical stay-at-home blueliner, Regehr was the metronome of the Flames’ blueline – and overall team – between 1999 and 2011. He never scored more than six goals or 26 points in a season, but that wasn’t his role. The Flames boasted a prodigious goal-scorer in Jarome Iginla and a fantastic goaltender in Miikka Kiprusoff, but Regehr’s role was to contain, stifle and occasionally smoosh the opposition’s best and brightest.
His was the type of role that he was regularly asked to crush Ales Hemsky along the side boards. And he did his job with glee, to the point where the space between him and the boards on his side of the Flames’ defensive zone was nicknamed “the tunnel of death” by fans. Arguably the best pure shutdown defender in franchise history, Regehr played a demanding, physically-taxing role and showed remarkable durability. By the time he left the club via a trade to the Buffalo Sabres at the 2011 NHL Draft, he was second all-time in games played – he’s since been passed by Mark Giordano and Mikael Backlund and sits fourth.
The 1990s and 2000s were defined for the Flames by Iginla and Kiprusoff. But while Iginla and Kiprusoff gave the Flames some confidence and swagger, Regehr kept opposition forwards honest and was a massive part of the club’s identity during one of their most prominent eras. He might not have been their most talented defender ever – that’s probably Al MacInnis – but man, he played such an important role at a crucial time.
And heck, Regehr may be the ideal person to have a jersey retirement for; he’s involved with the alumni, has a fun highlight reel of big hits (often on Edmonton Oilers players) and he’s got enough stories to give a great speech. His 28 is currently used by standout forward Elias Lindholm, so honouring him will likely have to wait. If Lindholm sticks with the Flames and retires after a standout career, there’s no rule that says they can’t do a double retirement ceremony.
Either way, Regehr’s done enough and been important enough to the Flames to warrant recognition.

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