SUN Hockey Pool

Regehr stars under radar

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

It's a rare night Robyn Regehr is awarded a first-star selection.

By no means is that due to his abilities. It's more a case of Regehr's role, as a defensive defenceman.

Yet, with only an assist to his name, Regehr was given the honour in Saturday's 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

Except he didn't get to take the curtain call.

He was sent to the dressing room in the final seconds due to a fight and was being prepared to be stitched up -- having had his face pushed into the glass from behind, which required a few stitches above his eye.

He wasn't upset about not receiving the extra love from the Saddledome faithful.

"I've been named a star before and had the chance to (skate on the ice and salute the crowd)," Regehr said.

"I was happy we won. They were big games, and we needed to win. As for the skate, I skate plenty during the game."

In a sense, the lack of extra attention seems appropriate for Regehr.

For all the club's lynchpin defenceman does for the team, he receives an underwhelming amount of attention around the league. If anyone thinks of a Norris Trophy candidate from the Flames, it's not Regehr's name uttered.

Fans and media here appreciate his talent, but you wonder how many elsewhere do?

"I don't think it really matters," Regehr said. "The guys that do that kind of job aren't the type of people to think too much about that. The success of being that type of player is measured in wins and losses, not individual awards."

Opposing players are well aware of the 6-foot-3, 235-lb. blueliner. Just ask Edmonton Oilers standout Ales Hemsky or the Canucks' Henrik Sedin.

"Oh, Robyn's name is known throughout the league," said Flames teammate Todd Bertuzzi, who's had his share of battles with Regehr over the years. "Whenever you're coming to Calgary, you know you'd better have the turn on him when you're going down the wing, because if you don't, you'll be in the end boards pretty quickly.

"He's patented that move and stopped a lot of guys just because of that move. Guys pull up on him."

Being a shutdown defender in the NHL these days is no easy feat. Sure, a few years ago, you could hook and hold your way to success.

Now, it's about footwork, body position and smarts.

"It's a lot more difficult to play defence now -- and not just for defencemen. Talking to forwards, we just had this conversation about a week ago, when defending down low, it's much more difficult," Regehr said. "You have to really watch your free hand, as soon as you take it off your stick, they'll look to call holding. And your stick, you have to have it on the puck. If it's wrapped in someone's legs and they go to move, you're getting called all the time.

"Before, that was a textbook defensive move."

Picking a player to be a star after he scores three goals is easy, but Regehr and his brethren are like offensive lineman in football. Most people really don't know what it means when he has a good game. It's easier to notice when they make a mistake.

"Yeah, like when I take a holding penalty," said Regehr with a laugh. "A good game is doing what I can to help the team win. If you have to block a shot on the penalty kill, you do that. If you have to break up a 2-on-1, you do that.

"I like to be physical, and when I'm really on top of my game, I'd say I'm shutting down the top line and pounding them, making it uncomfortable for them. If I'm making it miserable for them, that makes me happy."

If only his efforts would garner more accolades.

"That doesn't bother me," he insisted. "It's nice to go hand a stick to kids and see them happy with a smile on their face.

"That (Flames tradition) is probably the biggest thing to being a star."


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