Defending Robyn Regehr

It’s been a hard season for Calgary Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr. A one-time lynch pin of the Team Canada blue-line (he played for his country at both the 2004 World Cup and 2006 Olympics), he was passed over for this year’s squad, but more than that there wasn’t even a whiff of controversy at his omission. There have been suggestions that he’s struggling with speed and he is in decline.

I think it’s been overstated.

I say that despite the fact that Regehr’s plus/minus (even) puts him ahead of only minor league call-up Staffan Kronwall (-1). It’s all about context.

According to the excellent Gabriel Desjardins, who catalogues these things, and going by every Calgary game I’ve seen this year (and for that matter, since the lockout) Regehr plays the nastiest competition of any Flames’ defenceman. He’s one of only two Flames defencemen (Jay Bouwmeester is the other one) who start more in his own end than in the offensive zone. Measures like scoring chances and relative Corsi have him breaking even despite the way coach Brent Sutter is using him.

Ever since the lockout, 29-year-old Robyn Regehr has been playing against the best players in the Western Conference. Over that span, he’s never once been a minus player; in fact, he’s a cumulative plus-54. He’s a good player, and even just treading water in the role he’s in is a remarkable accomplishment. We know he’s capable of more, and maybe that’s why we’re disappointed when he only holds his own.