LOS ANGELES -- It was eating at Darryl Sutter.
He went back and forth in his mind in the 24 hours leading up to Game 5, but in the end the Los Angeles Kings coach had to tell Robyn Regehr again that Regehr wouldn't be playing despite having gotten a clean bill of health earlier in the series.
"He'd been out so long, that's your biggest concern," said Sutter. "Quite honestly, I thought about it again this morning, about how much trust you have in everybody."
Regehr was injured May 3 at Anaheim in Game 1 of that second-round series. He got clearance to play after Game 1 of the Cup finals, but Sutter just didn't want to mess with a winning lineup, not to mention throw a player back in at this stage who hadn’t played in a month. One can see his thinking there. But it wasn't easy on the coach.
Add in the fact Sutter coached Regehr in Calgary when the Flames lost a heartbreaking 2004 Stanley Cup finals in Game 7 to the Tampa Bay Lightning and you know how much the Kings coach wanted this for Regehr, who had never won a Cup before.
But perhaps the perfect moment finally came when Kings captain Dustin Brown made Regehr the first player he would hand the Cup to Thursday night.
What a moment.
"By Brownie doing that, it tells you how they feel about each other," Sutter said of his close-knit team.
Regehr, 34, was thrilled when Brown looked to him with the Cup handoff.
"It was amazing," said Regehr. "I had a little bit of an idea. Matt [Greene] and some of the other veteran guys were talking about it before, and [maybe they] just said [to Brown], ‘If you wanted to give it to Marian first,’ but I guess they thought I was older than him, so I have a little more seniority. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s taken me 15 years. I got within a goal about 10 years ago. Just to get back here again was just awesome.
"I'm just excited about the winning," said Regehr, who played in eight postseason games because of the injury and did not play at all in the final two rounds. Not that any of that dulled Regehr’s moment with the world’s most recognizable trophy. "I didn't really know how it would feel,” he said. "I had a hard time tying my skates, I was so excited to come out here."
Regehr approved a trade to Los Angeles from the Buffalo Sabres two years ago just for this reason: to have a chance to win his first Cup.
"It's a huge part of it because that's what it's all about," said Regehr. "It’s about being involved with a championship-winning team. Now I can check that box. Talking to the guys that had done it before -- it’s something they’ll remember and cherish forever. Now I’ll have the feelings and memories forever."