True, general manager Dean Lombardi was looking for a short-term addition to the Kings’ defense corps when he acquired veteran Robyn Regehr from the Buffalo Sabres on April 1. But there was far more to the deal than that. Lombardi also viewed Regehr as more than just a rental player for the rest of the 2012-13 season.
Regehr’s hard-hitting, defense-first style fit so well with the Kings that Lombardi decided to give him a two-year contract extension worth a reported $6 million on Thursday afternoon. Regehr was in the final season of a five-year, $20.1-million deal he signed while with the Calgary Flames.
“We’re looking at this as a guy that can fit here for a number of years,” Lombardi said of his plans back in April, after swapping second-round picks in the 2014 and ’15 drafts to acquire the 32-year-old Regehr from the Sabres.
Regehr teamed with a number of defensemen to start his Kings tenure, but when he was paired with Drew Doughty, the Kings had their shut-down pair for the stretch run of the regular season and the playoffs. Their styles are contrasting, but the results have been winning.
Regehr is the old-school hard-nosed veteran and Doughty is the freewheeling youngster with the skills to match. Regehr seldom joins the play in the offensive zone and Doughty seldom misses the opportunity to look for a scoring chance.
With veterans Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell sidelined by prolonged injuries, the Kings lacked the physical presence on the blue line that served them so well during their unexpected run to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship last spring.
“He’s been great for us, especially at that point,” Doughty said, referring to the trade. “I think ‘Greener’ was still out, so we needed that defensive presence and that physical guy. For the most part, our D-corps wasn’t the most physical. We’re more good passers and stuff like that. We didn’t have that physical presence. In bringing him in, he’s helped out a lot. He’s been a great guy to have. We all love him and he’s a big part of where we are right now.”