On April 1, 2013, Robyn Regehr was traded from the Buffalo Sabres to the Los Angeles Kings for two second round draft picks. It wasn’t an ordinary trade, as Regehr had a no-movement clause in his contract that required his dismissal.
At the time, Regehr knew Kings players Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, had met Drew Doughty once, and was familiar with Head Coach, Darryl Sutter from his days with the Calgary Flames organization. Being 33 years of age at the time, and having never won a Stanley Cup, it was his priority to play with a team that had a legitimate chance of winning a championship.
As far as Los Angeles itself, Regehr only knew of what little he had seen while coming in with other teams, either staying in Manhattan Beach or downtown.
“I thought I was going to be stuck in traffic non-stop when I was originally thinking about the move, but I was very pleasantly surprised that all the guys are either in Manhattan, Hermosa or Redondo. The practice rink is nice and close, so traffic isn’t a big deal when you’re in the South Bay. The only time you have to really fight it is when you’re coming down to STAPLES Center for a game, which isn’t every day,” says Regehr.
Although Regehr is one of the most intelligent, well-spoken, cerebral people one could ever meet, some of his fondest memories with the Kings are of the practical jokes played between teammates. A whole-hearted practical joker himself, Regehr thoroughly delighted in the small locker room pranks.
One of Regehr’s favorite tales is when Rob Scuderi, who had returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins after winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 with the Kings, came back to STAPLES Center with the Penguins to play the Kings. As Regehr tells it, Scuderi snuck into the Kings locker room and filled Stoll’s shave kit with about 100 cough drops.
The practical joking wasn’t just confined to the players. Regehr once sawed one of Sutter’s sticks in half just before practice, and on another occasion sewed Sutter’s pants pockets closed.
“That was funny,” Regehr says. “He likes to walk around in the morning with his hands in his pockets, so he couldn’t get his hands in his pockets because they were sewed shut.”
Regehr also remembers using crazy glue on one of Assistant Coach, Davis Payne’s, whistles. He glued the little ball inside the whistle to one side, so that it couldn’t make the whistling noise, and told some of his teammates. While Payne was trying to figure out what had happened to his whistle, Regehr and company had a good chuckle.
“That type of stuff goes on all the time and it’s a lot of fun and I love that kind of stuff. It’s part of what makes hockey so much fun to play. I was part of the pulling of some practical jokes myself and have had some pulled on me,” says Regehr with a laugh. “Those are the things I look back on with a smile.”
Even though Regehr retired at the end of the 2014-2015 season, he hasn’t quite given up on the pranking. Earlier this year, when the Kings came through Calgary, where Regehr currently resides, he took his two boys – whose favorite players are Jonathan Quick, Jeff Carter, and Doughty – to see his old teammates. Regehr couldn’t help but leave a few marks behind, one of which was tying knots in Doughty’s skate laces.
“Unfortunately he saw them before – he always gets dressed really late – and he saw it beforehand and he ended up catching that one,” admits Regehr.
Only being one season removed from his playing days, Regehr keeps in touch with a handful of guys from his time with the Kings, including Greene, Alec Martinez, Stoll, and Doughty. At the request of his two sons, they also visited Los Angeles a couple of times last winter and visited with Carter and Anze Kopitar. Regehr and his family entertained Brayden McNabb at their cabin as recently as last week.
Aside from all the fun Regehr had with his teammates in LA, the culmination of his two-plus seasons in a Kings uniform is obviously winning the Stanley Cup in 2014, which was his goal when consenting to the trade that brought him here in the first place. During the playoffs in 2014, Regehr sustained a knee injury during Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Anaheim Ducks, and sat out the remainder of the playoffs.
“It was really tough for me to get hurt at that time because I knew I was on the tail end of my career and I didn’t know how many more opportunities I would get,” recalls Regehr. “By the end, in the fourth series against the Rangers, I probably could have played, I felt that I could have played, but our team was playing so well that it really didn’t make sense to mess with the lineup and put anyone new in it. At that point in my career, was it difficult to watch? It was a little bit, but not nearly as hard as you would think.”
Continues Regehr: “I wanted to be a part of a winning team and I had a chance to do that, and that was the thing I wanted most. That’s all I cared about, that’s why I came to LA. It would have been nice if part of the story would have been that I played the whole time, but that’s just not the way it happened. For me, the end goal of winning the Cup was more important than the little individual one, and that’s what I remember now. I had a chance to fulfill a childhood and lifelong dream and goal and that was the most important thing.”
Despite having missed the final three rounds of the playoffs, Regehr was the player that Captain Dustin Brown handed the Cup to first.
“I had a really hard time controlling my emotions,” remembers Regehr, who came within one goal of winning the Stanley Cup in 2004 with the Flames, but fell short. “That’s when I felt that wound from 10 years ago, from falling just a little bit short of that goal, it went away completely for me.”
After playing out the final year of his contract with the Kings in 2015, Regehr retired after 15 seasons in the NHL, and realizing his ultimate dream of winning the Stanley Cup.
Regehr and his family are currently back in Calgary, where he is part owner of a company that specializes in renting equipment to those drilling oil wells. Regehr has even gone back to school with some fellow retired NHL-ers, helping to develop a program for athletes after they’re done playing hockey, which focuses on life and business skills. Agriculture is another one of Regehr’s pastimes, as he rents land to a farmer in his hometown in Saskatchewan, and last year went out there himself to help with the harvest, including driving the combine.
As for hockey, Regehr doesn’t miss it yet. He imagined he would start to feel the absence of the game come last December, but he has kept himself so preoccupied with learning new skills and exploring different parts of life, that it hasn’t happened.
He is, however, open to the idea that his feelings may change. Perhaps one day he will be drawn back to the game that gave him life and a job for 15 years. It’s possible he’ll realize he misses the competition or even the travel.
Or maybe – just maybe – he’ll discover he misses the practical jokes.