NHLers relate to Riders' heartbreak

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:57 PM ET

NASHVILLE — While some Flames enjoyed a thrilling last-second victory by the NFL’s Tennessee Titans during a day off Sunday, others were crushed by a last-second loss in the CFL’s championship game.

Robyn Regehr is one Saskatchewan Roughriders fan who watched on a laptop as his favourite team lost the Grey Cup on the final play of the game.

“Unfortunately I’ve been in that position, where we were one goal away from winning something I’ve thought about every since I picked up a hockey stick,” Regehr said, relating the Riders’ experience to his own suffering after falling short in the 2004 Stanley Cup final.

“It’s tough. It hurts, a lot, for a while. You just hope you can get back there.”

In the Nashville Predators dressing room, there were a couple of happy Montreal Alouettes fans who had seen some suffering of their own as the Als fell shy in five of seven championship games this decade.

They were also a little richer, taking some cash off Saskatchewan product Wade Belak for the outcome.

“There will be a lot of crushed Saskatchewan people,” Belak said after the too-many-men penalty gave the Als a second chance to kick the winning field goal. “It was kind of a disappointing way to lose a game like that.

“Now I’ve got to pay the French guys their money.”

The French guys are J.P. Dumont and Francis Bouillon, whose wallets will be just a little fatter this week.

“It was 200 bucks — 100 bucks to each guy,” Belak said with a grin. “Tough economy. I don’t really like handing money away.”

Dumont was happy to be on the other side for a change.

“Every year I’ve been losing a little bit of money with Montreal in the finals,” he said. “It was good to get my money back.”

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Staffan Kronwall is back with the Flames after a two-week conditioning stint with the Abbotsford Heat.

He’s not sure when he’ll get to suit up again, but maybe he’s actually due for a bit of a rest after playing seven games in 12 nights in the minors.

“I did play a lot. It was fun to get some regularity,” said the blueliner. “It was fun. A good experience.”

Kronwall was paired with AHL rookie Keith Aulie and sees a bright future ahead for the 20-year-old.

“He’s a good kid. He’ll be good one day. He’s more of a stay-at-home defensive kind of guy. I kind of like jumping in the rush and trying to create some kind of offence,” said Kronwall. “It was a good mix. I thought we played well together.”

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Pekka Rinne was a big fan of Patrick Roy as a kid.

As he got older, he turned to Miikka Kiprusoff as a source of inspiration.

“He’s kind of one of the pioneers for Finnish goalies,” said the Predators netminder of his fellow Finn before they faced off across the ice Monday. “He’s done a great job. He’s been leading the way. He’s one of the first (Finnish) No.-1 goalies — there were a few guys before him — he’s definitely someone I’ve always been looking up to.”

Both have a chance to be part of the Olympic team taking part in the Vancouver Games in February.

“Could happen. It would be my dream,” said Rinne, who tied the franchise record book with seven straight wins this month.

He might be one of the longer shots for Team Finland with a few more experienced backstops on the list.

Kiprusoff is at the top of Rinne’s.

“I’m not one to make the calls, but he’s having a good year. The way he’s been playing in the big games, he’s hot for sure,” Rinne said.

“At least in my papers, he’s the guy.”


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