Persistence sold Regehr on Sabres
STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
|Calgary Flames Robyn Regehr talks to media at the Scotiabank Saddledome in downtown Calgary on April 11, 2011 as the team cleans out their lockers after missing the playoffs. (STUART DRYDEN/QMI AGENCY)
Even before Robyn Regehr decided late Friday night to waive his no-movement clause to allow the trade to go through, the new Buffalo Sabres owners were offering to fly up to Cristopher Lake and make an in-person plea to the Calgary Flames defenceman they were attempting to acquire.
Instead, when Terry and Kim Pegula and head coach Lindy Ruff arrived at Regehr's summer home in northern Saskatchewan Saturday afternoon, it was to celebrate.
After initially refusing to allow the deal to go through Friday, more talks with his agent, wife and family and full disclosure from the Flames on what might be available, Regehr changed his mind.
The deal — sending the 31-year-old defenceman, winger Ales Kotalik and the Flames' 2012 second-round pick to Buffalo in return for defenceman Chris Butler and forward Paul Byron — was completed early Saturday morning.
"That was a big part of it," Regehr said of the persistence of the Sabres group, which clearly pegged Regehr as a key part of moving forward. "It's really flattering to anyone when someone is pursuing you like that.
"I warned them about northern Saskatchewan, the bugs and that. Terry said he had a place on the lake in the Adirondacks and the bugs are pretty bad, too.
"He seems to know what he's getting himself into."
And what he's getting in return with Regehr.
"We looked at him as a guy who can help do a lot for Tyler Myers," Sabres GM Darcy Regier said of their top young prospect — a Calgarian — on the blueline.
Although they gain youth in Butler and Byron, and shed around US$7 million on salary cap, the Flames also know what they gave up. Regehr was willing to move on after 11 seasons as a Flames cornerstone if it helped the team.
"He came to me at the exit meeting and said if moving me out helps the organization, I’m willing to work with you," Feaster said. "That speaks to his character and professionalism."
But that didn't make it any easier on the GM to ask Regehr to waive the no-movement clause during the draft.
"As I told him, it’s the toughest thing you do," Feaster said. "I went through it in Tampa with Brad Richards. There was a guy who won a Stanley Cup for us. When you have a warrior like Robyn was, a guy who’s been there for as long as he’s been there and done as much for the franchise as he has, that’s a very very difficult phone call to make.
"It wasn’t a case of going out and saying we had to move Robyn. It was a situation where Buffalo was prepared to pay a pretty significant price in order to get him.
"It caught him by surprise when I called him on Wednesday and asked if he’d go to Buffalo. He had been hoping that there might be other optins, but as I said to him, the Buffalo deal from our perspective was so significant, and they wanted him so much that really weren’t any other offers that were even close."
Regehr made the most of his time to determine it worked for him, too, calling former Sabres Rhett Warrener and Jordan Leopold to get their opinions on life in Buffalo.
He couldn't find anyone who had a bad thing to say about the city or franchise. And Saturday, Regehr said it just feels like the right move for all involved.
"Yeah, it does. There's lots of unknowns for us, new things, moving out east and living in the States," said Regehr, who will make the move with wife Kristina and their two-year-old son Wyatt this summer.
"We're really looking forward to having some of those new experiences. It's something where we weren't scared of change and living somewhere different. It's something we are really looking forward to and are excited about."