By Mike Harrington
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr is back in First Niagara Center today for the first time since the Sabres traded him West on April 1 for second-round picks in 2014 and 2015. Regehr, remember, was personally recruited by Terry and Kim Pegula and Lindy Ruff during draft weekend in 2011 at his summer home in Saskatchewan and agreed to a trade from his longtime home in Calgary.
The Sabres were talking Stanley Cup at the time and thought a veteran like Regehr was another piece. Obviously it didn't turn out that way. They missed the playoffs in 2011-12 -- with Regehr's turnover in the penultimate game in Philadelphia leading to the Matt Read goal that knocked Buffalo from contention. As last season approached the deadline, Jason Pominville, Jordan Leopold and Regehr were all dealt and the Sabres are essentially starting from scratch, with a 3-15-1 record heading into tonight's game.
"They've gotten rid of most of the older players and really decided to go young and try to get as many young guys in there and give them a chance," Regehr said. "It doesn't surprise me. With that type of rebuilding process, there's going to be lumps and they're going to be big."
Regehr, who got to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup final with Calgary in 2004, said the 2011-12 season here rates as one of his big disappointments. The Sabres barely needed a plane to fly to the season-opening games in Europe because they were so high with Cup thoughts. They won both but the season soon got away from them and they didn't even qualify for the playoffs.
"I was disappointed with the first year," he said. "I felt we had a better team than how we played. We had a good start to that season over in Europe, struggled when we came back, started getting some injuries and never recovered until it was too late in the season to chase teams down by that point.
"The most disappointing thing was weren't able to pull out of that and get things back on the rails. Everyone goes through struggles. It's a matter of when you do struggle, it's finding solutions quickly, implementing them and getting them going."
Regehr had nothing but praise for his time here. He enjoyed living in North Buffalo, a rare spot for a player with young children to live. He said the people were friendly and the living was good. He even joked about the arduous 2 1/2-hour drive he and some Kings teammates needed to take through downtown Los Angeles last week for a team event.
"We loved it here," he said. "When the door closed on Buffalo, I know my wife was very emotional about it because she made some very good friends here and we were treated better than I've ever been treated anywhere else. Not just by the hockey team and organization here but by the people of Western New York."
taggedex-Sabres | LA Kings | Robyn Regehr