LOS ANGELES -- Robyn Regehr had an inkling he would be in line for the magical moment. The Los Angeles Kings defenseman heard some chatter beforehand, but when it actually happened, it was beyond what he envisioned.
After captain Dustin Brown took the traditional first lap with the Stanley Cup following a 3-2, championship-clinching, Game 5 win against the New York Rangers in double overtime Friday at Staples Center, he handed it to Regehr, a 15-year NHL veteran who recovered from a knee injury and sat out the last three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The second person in the procession to raise the Cup holds significance in hockey, and Regehr was honored. At 34, he is two years older than teammate Marian Gaborik, who won the Cup for the first time, and came agonizingly close with the Calgary Flames in 2004, a seven-game loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"It was amazing," Regehr said. "I had a little bit of an idea. Matt [Greene] and some of the other veteran guys were talking about it before and [they] just said [to Brown], 'If you wanted to give it to Marian first,' but I guess they thought I was older than him, so I have a little more seniority. It's an amazing feeling. It's taken me 15 years. I got within a goal about 10 years ago. Just to get back here again was just awesome."
Brown said he planned on handing off to either Regehr or Gaborik but went with Regehr because of his off-ice presence. Regehr became healthy and available during the Stanley Cup Final but coach Darryl Sutter opted to go with Greene, largely because the Kings kept winning with that lineup. But Regehr was a consummate teammate.
"The only real decision was [Gaborik] and Robyn," Brown said. "Both are veteran guys looking for their first Cup. I know [Regehr] didn't play from that second series on but he was a big part. He was healthy, ready to go, and he provided leadership in warm-ups. Either one of those guys could have [deserved it], but at the end of the day, you go with a more veteran guy. Again, I know he didn't play, but he's a big part off the ice and behind the scenes that a lot of people didn't see.
"He's had a long successful career and to have the privilege to pass it to two guys who have never touched it, that's special for me."
Regehr held son Wyatt in one arm and son Shane in the other, and was in full uniform and skates. He came to the Kings with unfinished business from 2004 and didn't have to wait long after he was acquired April 1, 2013.
Asked if the Stanley Cup completed his career, Regehr said, "It's a huge part of it because that's what it's all about. It's about being involved with a championship-winning team. Now I can check that box. Talking to the guys that had done it before, it's something they'll remember and cherish forever. Now I'll have the feelings and memories forever."