Flames defenceman finds higher ’gehr

Calgary Flames' Robyn Regehr punches Vancouver Canucks Tanner Glass. (REUTERS/Todd Korol)

Calgary Flames' Robyn Regehr punches Vancouver Canucks Tanner Glass. (REUTERS/Todd Korol)

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:35 PM ET

Tucked away in cabin country, Ian White hadn’t heard about all the Robyn Regehr trade rumours this summer.

The Calgary Flames blueliner still can’t believe it ever become a serious topic.

“That’s the first time I’ve heard anything,” White said, a look of disbelief taking over his face. “Really?

“I kind of separated myself with the real world. In the summer, I live kind out in the bush and don’t really pay attention to anything else that goes on. I’m pretty sure we’re happy with the group we have in here. You couldn’t have a better defence group. We’ve got to be up there at the top of the league.”

And Regehr, in his blueline partner’s opinion, is a big reason for that.

“He goes hard all the time and is as physical as he can be — every single time he gets a chance, he takes a hit,” said White, who signed a new deal with the Flames this summer to rejoin Regehr on the back end.

“Defensively, he’s second to none in the locker-room, and he can help out with assists, too.”

Regehr had a decent NHL season offensively last year, earning a couple of goals and 15 assists after no goals and eight helpers the previous campaign.

And he did that while struggling to cope with patellar tendinitis — a result of years of wear and tear on his knees.

“It was bothering me all year. It was every day, I could feel it out on the ice. I never felt great out on the ice. Sometimes that gets a little frustrating,” said Regehr, who changed his off-season workouts but still finished third in fitness testing behind Jarome Iginla and Brett Sutter when camp opened. “This year, it’s been a lot better. I feel a lot better because of that.

“I usually try to go top five in the veteran group. Jarome’s pretty tough to beat.”

His levels have increased progressively each year since he started testing back in 1999. So has his status as a premier shut-down defenceman.

That is until last year, which was a rough campaign on most of the Flames players.

Regehr is just one of the many looking to bounce back and prove last season was a stumble and not part of a permanent free-fall.

He’s picked up where he left off with White as his co-defender, but the Saskatchewan product is aiming much higher now that they’ve had half a season to grow together.

“I think we have to have higher expectations of one another, especially now that we’re familiar,” Regehr said.

“I like playing with Ian — he’s a smart player and usually really, really good positionally. You don’t have to worry about him. I like that.”

White, who is one of the more puck-friendly defenceman with a green light to join the rush under the tweaked Flames system, feels the same way about Regehr. Having Regehr backing him up on the back end gives the former Toronto Maple Leafs rearguard total confidence.

“Most of our pairs, we kind of have one guy who’s the offensive guy and a stay-at-home guy,” White said. “To have the green light to get us up there in the play just creates havoc for the other team and gives us a whole different look on our attack.”

And if Regehr — a big man with a booming slap-shot but less dynamic puck-carrying talents — is occasionally the man joining the rush, that’s fine by White, as well.

“If he’s going, I’ll stay back,” White said with a laugh. “He’s got the green light, too.”


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