Dark clouds hung low in the sky over the Saddledome yesterday afternoon but there was a silver lining for Robyn Regehr.
The Calgary Flames' star defenceman, who suffered a sprained MCL during Wednesday's pre-season game against the Edmonton Oilers, said his injury could have been much worse had it not been for a brace he was already wearing on his right knee.
"I was very lucky, actually," Regehr said yesterday outside the Flames dressing room.
"The doctor at the MRI clinic told me if I wasn't wearing a brace on that knee, it could have been a lot worse. It's never fun to sit out but when someone tells you that you could have been gone six months -- and hopefully it'll be three, four weeks -- I guess I was happy to hear that."
Regehr has been wearing a protective brace since straining his knee early in his career.
"I got used to it. When I healed up, I just kept wearing it," he said.
"It was nice to have that as a safety precaution. I'm glad that it helped me and maybe saved me from missing three-quarters of the year."
Missing any time is agony to a player, especially when the injury occurs in such awkward fashion late in a meaningless 5-0 pre-season win. Regehr was pinching in from the point when the incident took place at the 'Dome just before time expired and the extraneous shootout began.
"I went to go pinch down on their winger and, unfortunately, he didn't turn around and face me," recalled Regehr. "He kept facing the opposite direction and put his butt right into my knee. He hit the outside of my knee and bent it, I guess a way it wasn't supposed to."
The 6-ft. 3-in., 230-pounder quickly limped off the ice and didn't return.
"I knew that something was wrong," said Regehr. "I didn't know how wrong."
The injury was diagnosed by team doctors as a sprain and was confirmed Thursday at the clinic. Regehr is expected to miss about four weeks and will wear a slightly flexed brace 24 hours a day while it heals.
"The good news is that there's no need for surgery," said a relieved Regehr. "The MCL heals on its own very well, usually."
The bad news is he will have to watch his team from afar as his teammates open the regular season Wednesday in Minnesota.
"It's very frustrating for me as a player, having missed all last year with the lockout and wanting to get back and play," he said. "Especially at the start of the season where everyone's really excited about the whole situation -- the new faces we have here in Calgary and the excitement around the hockey team in the city. It's bad timing but I'll be working hard to get back as soon as possible."