I did spend 11 seasons here but the year and a half in Buffalo and the two and a half in LA, (but) I always felt that I was a Calgary Flame. When I look back at my career, that’s the team that I most identify with. - Robyn Regehr
CALGARY, AB -- Robyn Regehr has returned, retired.
The longtime Calgary Flames defenceman returned Monday to officially retire from the NHL as a member of the team he spent his first 11 seasons and 826 NHL games with.
“It’s really nice,” Regehr said “It’s a way that I’m very fortunate to tie up loose ends of my career after being gone for four seasons. It’s nice to have the jersey back on, even if it’s just for ceremonial purposes. I’ve always felt part of Calgary and the Flames organization, so it’s really nice to end it this way.”
Regehr spent 11 NHL seasons with the Flames, and served as an alternate captain for his final seven years. He represented Calgary internationally at the World Junior Championship (1999), two World Championships (2000, 2005), the World Cup of Hockey (2004) and the Olympic Winter Games (2006).
“For me, points are one thing, but what you actually do for the team and the guys in the locker room, everybody that played with Robyn knows that he deserves this,” said Flames assistant general manager Craig Conroy, a former teammate of Regehr’s.
“Moving forward, one day, if he’s up in the ‘Ring of Honour’, as we get going, this is the first step of brining him back in the fold to be seen as a Calgary Flame. There will be a lot of the older guys that will be going up before the younger crew, but at some point, these are the guys that are going to be in the ‘Ring of Honour.’ This is just a special way to jumpstart that.”
Regehr left the Flames in 2010 and played four more seasons in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres and Los Angeles Kings, ending his career after playing 1090 career NHL games, and capturing a Stanley Cup championship with the Kings in 2014.
He called it quits last spring, and moved back to Calgary with his wife and two sons.
And now, he’s officially retired as a member of the Flames.
“For me, when I got the call from Craig and (vice president of communications) Peter Hanlon, they mentioned that they’d been brainstorming on the phone,” Regehr said. “I said, ‘I think I’m in for a bit of trouble here, what are you up to?’ Craig said that he wanted to do this ceremonial agreement. I was really excited because I played for 15 years and as they mentioned, the road was a winding road.
“I did spend 11 seasons here but the year and a half in Buffalo and the two and a half in LA, (but) I always felt that I was a Calgary Flame. When I look back at my career, that’s the team that I most identify with. Having spent the most time here, having a big group of family and friends and support network here, and with the team. I’m very glad that I’ve had the opportunity to come back and do this today.”
One, let alone 1,000 NHL games is an accomplishment for Regehr.
He broke both legs in a car crash at age 19.
But Regehr made his NHL debut four months later, and became youngest nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in NHL history, annually awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the sport.
“I never had that doubt that I wasn’t going to play hockey again, I just didn’t know to what extend I would be able to play,” Regehr said. “Really, I tried to keep the negatives out. I think that helped me. When I look back on it, it really helped me in the big picture to, saying that, when I came to Calgary as a 19-year old, you think you know a lot and you don’t know anything. You’re just out there and you don’t get it. That’s the best way to explain it.
“Going through that situation, how emotional that was, how tough physically that was, and all the rehab I had to go through as a 19-year old, I felt different. I wanted to make the most of any opportunity that I got. Thankfully for me, Al Coates had a lot belief in me, signed me to a contract and let me go out there and try to play and improve my game. I was extremely lucky.”
Regehr played 826 games with the Flames, second most all-time, and finished his career with 1,090 regular season skates.
And after coming close with the Flames in 2004, he landed his Cup win with the Kings.
It helped Regehr step away from the game.
“When I first went to LA, I talked to Dean Lombardi, their general manager, and he was talking about a three-year contract,” Regehr said. “He wondered what my thoughts were on it. I said, ‘Dean, as a player, I can give you two years and play as hard as I can and be effective. After that I don’t know, I really don’t. So why don’t we do two instead of three and go from there?’
“That was the start of thinking about the end that way. From there, what happened with the injuries and winning and things, it fell into place. The body knew that it was time and not needing to chase a championship around, it just made sense.”
So too did retiring a member of the Flames.
“It felt really nice when Craig and Peter gave me the call,” Regehr said. “We started talking back and forth a bit about what they were planning. It does, it makes you feel very special. I’m happy I’ve had the opportunity to do this. I put a lot of time and effort into the team when I was here. It’s just a nice way to celebrate that.”