Long after the final horn had sound at Staples Center on Saturday lingered a 15-year veteran defenseman as he sat in front of his locker. Robyn Regehr, the Los Angeles Kings bruiser the past three seasons had given fans the shirt off his back, he had given the game everything he had, now it was time to say goodbye.
“I have been thinking about it for little while,” said the Brazilian-born player about his decision to leave the game he loves. “You have to think about where your body is at, how it is holding up and not holding up. There are family decisions and all kinds of stuff that are involved with a decision like that. It is a big decision and I think we have decided.”
Suddenly a lugubrious lull fell over the Kings locker room as the usually jovial media realized what they were witnessing.
“I’m probably not going to play again,” said a somber Regehr.
And there it was. The moment that every professional athlete struggles with at some point in their career, their own mortality.
Regehr won’t be remembered as one of the greatest Kings of all time, his jersey will never be in the rafters and its unlikely the future Kings team don purple and gold for a “Robyn Regehr Legends Night,” but trust me, Regehr will be missed. Despite his physical play on the ice, he was one of the good guys.
“Him and I go back a long ways,” said LA Kings head coach Darry Sutter who coached Regehr in Calgary and traded for him in 2013. “We lost a Game 7 Stanley Cup with Calgary. To get him here and win one here was awesome. He’s not only a good player; he’s a great person. That’s the best thing about when we got him.”
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At his peak, Regehr was one of the strongest and most rugged defenseman in the NHL. He finished 14th in the James Norris Memorial Trophy voting in 2005-2006, an accolade bestowed upon the league’s best defenseman. He played for Canada in the 2006 Winter Olympics and scored 18 points in 67 playoff games.
After years of missing out on Lord Stanley’s Cup, Regehr finally lifted the cup last season with the Kings. The career defining moment, was made all that more special when Kings captain Dustin Brown, made sure that Regehr was the first teammate to get the cup after he received it.
As we languished in the locker room shortly after the reigning champions season ended shorter than anyone expected in a 4-1 victory of the San Jose Sharks, we realized that it was in this sacred room that Regehr’s presence would be missed the most.
After a tumultuous season that saw defenseman Slava Voynov suspended for the year for domestic violence charges, Regehr was a steady voice in the Kings locker room. The veteran defenseman was called the “quarterback” of the locker room after the game by several players and was a mentor to youngsters Brayden McNabb and Jamie McBain. It is that role the Kings will miss the most.
Good luck in the next chapter in your life, Robyn, you’ve earned it.