SUN Hockey Pool

Bad blood goes up in Flames

RANDY SPORTAK, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

The war between Robyn Regehr and Owen Nolan has reached an armistice.

It took a few years but all's well between the two Calgary Flames teammates.

Very well.

"I don't look much into it. Those are the type of guys I want on my team, guys that battle hard all the time," Nolan said. "Obviously he doesn't look too much into it because I needed a vehicle and he lent me his truck."

"Yeah, and he hasn't crashed it yet," cracked Regehr. "So I think we're on good terms."

Oh, but there were battles. Nasty, nasty battles.

It all began in November 2003 when Nolan was still with the San Jose Sharks. Regehr left him a crumpled mess with one of those crosschecks that happened regularly in front of the net in the Old NHL, and caused him to miss a couple of games with a sore back.

It escalated a couple of weeks later when Nolan played for the Leafs. Regehr splattered the veteran into the Saddledome glass, which was immediately followed by Nolan rushing to his feet and going after Regehr, which started a dust-up.

There were even words off the ice.

"It seems to be the only hit he can do, a crosscheck," Nolan said after the second incident. "A guy that big should be playing physical. He doesn't need a stick."

Pressed further, Nolan said: "I'm not even wasting my breath on that guy. He's a waste of time. Next question."

Regehr also volleyed.

"I remember he said he thought it was a cheap shot that I gave him and now he waits until I'm turned and then he comes after me," Regehr said at the time.

A few years later, though, Nolan said it's all water under the bridge.

"That's all battling on the ice. I played with (Ed) Belfour before and I ran him into the boards," he said. "When you're on the opposite team, you're the enemy and that's the way you play the game, you play physical.

"You want those guys that will challenge you. The guys that shy away are probably guys you don't want on your team. He's definitely a physical guy that will challenge and be competitive."

For all the bad blood on the ice, nothing was ever malicious or personal in the collisions. It was just hockey the way both Regehr and Nolan play.

"I don't think there was anything intended to hurt him or anything in bad taste or cheap. It was just a fact he wanted to win and I wanted to win," Regehr said. "We go to the same areas of the ice when we're playing against each other and that leads to battles with one another, but now that we're teammates, it's a whole different situation.

"If something was to happen to him, I would back him up and I'm sure he would back me up, too."

When you think about it, they both bring very similar elements to the game, which is why GM Darryl Sutter wanted to bring Nolan -- his captain in San Jose -- into the Flames fold.

Needing nine clashes to reach the 1,000-game milestone, Nolan has racked up a heady 365 goals, 410 assists and 1,656 penalty minutes in his black-and-blue NHL career.

He's left plenty of contusions in his wake, too.

The Flames are banking on him -- likely in a second-line role -- to bring all that as well as leadership to a team that believes it is a Stanley Cup contender.

"He's an intense guy, who has played with a lot of good teams and been around a long time," said captain Jarome Iginla, an Olympic teammate in 2002. "His presence and in his career, we have a lot of respect for what he's done, in terms of scoring 40 goals and being tough and being willing to battle. So I think it's great."

After two seasons out due to injuries, Nolan, 35, returned last year with Phoenix and collected 16 goals and 24 assists in 76 games.

He's expecting to put up better numbers.

"I know I didn't achieve them last year. I felt I had an all right season, but nowhere near where I think I can be this year and should be," he said.

His logic goes beyond being on a better squad. All that time missed due to a serious knee injury left plenty of rust.

He believes last season in the desert knocked it off.

"I found the timing was my biggest problem last year," said Nolan.


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