Changing ’gehrs

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:30 PM ET

There’s been a lot of smoke in Calgary this summer.

Turns out there’s fire behind it.

And that’s bad news for local Robyn Regehr fans.

Linked to more trade rumours than any other Calgary Flame the last three months, Regehr all but confirmed yesterday there’s something to them.

“Have I been approached about (a trade)?” repeated Regehr yesterday during a suddenly awkward exchange.

“Ahhhhh, I can’t really … I’m not going to get into that.

“It’s part of sports. That’s the way it is.”

No denial — just more fuel for the fire.

A western Canadian boy who signed a long-term extension, built a home and has set down serious roots in Calgary over his 11 years here, there was some suggestion Regehr would insist the no-movement clause in his contract be honoured.

But while it’s unclear whether GM Darryl Sutter approached him or he approached Sutter, what is obvious is that Regehr is now in play. As in on the trade block.

This isn’t to suggest Sutter is holding the type of desperate fire sale that saw Dion Phaneuf traded to one of the first and only bidders. But now is as good a time as ever to cash in on the value Regehr still has on the trade market.

That said, the clear impetus for a deal stems from the fact the Flames have exceeded the salary cap and have until the end of training camp to trim payroll.

With three years left on a deal that will see the 30-year-old defenceman make $4 million annually, Regehr would easily solve the team’s cap woes by being dealt for draft picks, a few young forwards or a combination of the two.

And he knows it.

“A byproduct of a team not making the playoffs is we make some moves, and all of sudden, we look at our (cap) number and something’s gotta happen,” said Regehr.

“Look at Chicago — there’s a lot more movement — it’s crazy what’s going on there, but that’s the reality of where we’re at.”

The obvious strength of Sutter’s defensive-minded Flames comes from the back end, where eight skaters are on one-way deals and several young prospects appear on the verge of breaking through to the bigs.

Room needs to be made, money needs to be saved.

While Sutter has long cherished big shut-down defencemen like the 6-foot-3 Regehr, the obvious need to find more offence for his club makes the dealing of his most-defensive blueliner even more realistic.

“That’s one of the things we have to deal with,” Regehr said of the endless rumours linking him to deals for everyone from Marc Savard to Jason Spezza.

“Does it make you happy? No, but that’s part of what we do. With anything you do, there are good and not-so-good parts. There’s going to be lots of talk. Whether there’s movement or not, as a player, you’re not sure if that’s going to happen or you will be approached.”

Regehr knows but isn’t saying.

Asked simply if he wanted to be here, Regehr came up with the politically correct answer. He’d be foolish not to.

“I would like to win here in Calgary,” said the Flames union player rep, who spent most of his summer in Saskatchewan while trying to help land his union a leader.

“That’s my first option and that always has been. I think I’ve made that very clear not only with talking about it but with my actions — with things like re-signing here to an extension and not going into the open market. People can talk and say whatever they want but those kind of actions speak louder than me coming out and saying something about it.”

Feeling healthier than last season when bothered by knee tendonitis, Regehr isn’t worried by prognosticators pegging the Flames to finish out of the playoffs again.

“Like probably most of the people around Calgary, I was a little bit surprised to see the moves we did this summer, but no one knows how things are going to work out until we hit the ice and start playing,” said Regehr.

And nobody knows exactly where he’ll play, either.


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