NEWARK, N.J. -- There was the cold air funneling into his lungs, the vision of his breath coming out of his nose and mouth, and the bundled up boisterous crowd at McMahon Stadium. Robyn Regehr, then a defenseman for the Calgary Flames, knew exactly what to expect heading into the 2011 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic in Calgary.
"I had been in that situation before," Regehr told NHL.com from Prudential Center prior to a game between his Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils. "Not in a NHL game, but as a kid growing up."
Regehr can't have the same feeling heading into his second NHL outdoor game. For a guy from Saskatchewan, the thought of playing a hockey game of any kind under the Southern California sky is foreign and can't even be called a dream come true because, frankly, how could he have ever drummed up such a dream in the first place?
It won't be unique after Jan. 25, when the Kings take on the Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium in the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.
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"Palm trees and sand, that's the rumor," Regehr said when asked for his expectations for the game at Dodger Stadium. "I think they're going to put some of that stuff out on the infield. When we get into the game it will be a lot of those things you focus on in hockey and that will be the most important thing, but it's unknown to me right now what it's going to be like around that. That was different in the Heritage Classic."
Regehr was able to take the 10-minute walk from his home in Calgary to McMahon Stadium for practice the day before the Heritage Classic and for the game against the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 20, 2011. Prior to that, the last time he actually walked to practice or a game was when he was playing in pee-wee.
"Yeah, a long time ago," said the 33-year-old Regehr. "I had to [carry my bag] as a kid, though, and it made the walk that much longer."
For the practice day, he came on the ice wearing a Saskatchewan Roughriders toque and he let then-Flames coach Brent Sutter wear the mittens he had specially made for him by a northern native group. They were decorated with beads forming the Flames logo.
He wore tube socks and long underwear.
"I'm not going to need that stuff," Regehr said. "I don't know what I'm going to do this time. Maybe I'll come out in board shorts and sunglasses."
That would be very SoCal of him.
"Who knows what the weather is going to be like?" Regehr said.
It'll be warmer than it was in Calgary, where the temperature the day of the Heritage Classic game dipped below zero (Fahrenheit) because of the wind chill. Regehr said that didn't bother him or any of the players that day at McMahon Stadium because the atmosphere made them forget about it.
The atmosphere in L.A. for the Stadium Series game should do the same thing, but for Regehr, who can't even imagine hockey outside in temperatures that aren't below freezing, visualizing Dodger Stadium for a hockey game is almost impossible.
"I've never been to Dodger Stadium and that itself is going to be intriguing," Regehr said. "It's going to be very, very different."