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The 800-game club

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames

Robyn Regehr and Cory Sarich mark milestones this week. They join the 800 club.

Regehr was the first of the two Calgary Flames defencemen to reach 800 games when he suited up against the Ottawa Senators -- coincidentally the team he played his first National Hockey League game against.

That was back in October, 1999. Regehr had been on a conditioning stint with the Flames top farm team in Saint John but had been recalled. He was at the morning skate and taking a few extra drills when then coach Brian Sutter told him he would be dressing that game.

"I didn't really sleep the rest of the day. I was really excited," recalled Regehr, who partnered with Tommy Albelin for his first NHL game skate. "I remember how fast the game was. It was really quick."

For Regehr to reach the 800-game club is truly an achievement. He was in a terrible car accident in July 1999. Among the injuries were two broken legs. Some thought his career would be derailed.

"The start of my career, it was almost over before it started," said Regehr.

Hard work off the ice and a dedication to get back into playing form paid off for the rugged defenceman. He becomes just the third player in Flames history to reach 800 games with the Flaming C on his jersey, joining Jarome Iginla (1,079 and counting) and Al MacInnis (803 games).

There was also a little confusion on which game was to be the 800th of his career. Initially it was believed to be Monday's game against Chicago. Here's the tale: Regehr dressed for a game near the end of 2002 but did not play a shift, so it doesn't count. Technically, he dressed for game 801 Wednesday against Ottawa but skated in game 800.

"If they didn't dress a full line-up I believe, I believe they were facing a substantial fine," said Regehr, who was sidelined and unable to skate because of a foot injury. "So they asked me to dress and sit on the bench. Little did I know it would cause a few headaches down the road when people are wondering how many games I've played. Something to keep people on their toes."

Sitting, knowing he would not take a shift was a odd experience.

"I couldn't eat any popcorn or have a hot dog," said Regehr. "I just had the pom poms out cheering on the guys."

That's long behind him.

He's a steady regular on the Flames blueline, handing out punishing hits and playing against top forwards on a nightly basis. Not easy work, by any means.

"It's something to be proud of," said Sarich, who is slated to reach the milestone on Friday against Anaheim. "I know the game that Robyn plays and the game that I try to play and it's a physical game. And you want to be involved. Some nights are a little easier than others, but you try not to have too many easy nights. A guys likes to get dirty out there."

Sarich, like Regehr, got his start against Ottawa, too. At the time he was with the Buffalo Sabres. He also toiled with Tampa Bay, winning a Stanley Cup there in 2004.

Both are concentrating on what is in front of the Flames -- winning games and staying in the playoff hunt.

"It is something I might think about more in the summertime," said Regehr. "But right now with these games being so important and meaning so much it is not something I think about a lot."

Next up is the 1,000-game mark.

"I think that is very special. I hope to do that," said Regehr.

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