LOS ANGELES — On June 13, defenseman Alec Martinez scored at 14:43 of the second overtime period, leading the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The victory eliminated the Rangers in five games, and gave the Kings their second Stanley Cup Championship in three seasons.
Although it probably seemed like an eternity to the players, it did not take too much time before National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman handed the Stanley Cup to Kings captain Dustin Brown at center ice.
Unlike the first time he skated with the Stanley Cup when the Kings won it in 2012, this time, Brown took more time during his skate with hockey’s Holy Grail, savoring his time with the most revered trophy in professional sports.
“It’s definitely not because I had more energy, that’s for sure,” said Brown. “I knew where my family was sitting, so I made a curl that way. I have all my immediate family here—that’s about twenty people. I’m just glad they’re all here.”
But many were watching closely to see who Brown handed the Cup to next, and he surprised very few when he passed it to veteran defenseman Robyn Regher.
“I’ve had the opportunity to lift the Stanley Cup twice, and I’ve had the opportunity to pass it off to someone who’s never touched it twice,” said Brown. “That’s something that’s special to me.”
But the Kings have two players who had never won the Stanley Cup before, the other being veteran left wing Marian Gaborik. That presented Brown with a dilemma: who gets it first?
“The only real decision was [Gaborik] and Robyn,” Brown explained. “Both are veteran guys looking for their first Cup. I know [Regehr] didn’t play from that second series on, but he was a big part. He was healthy, ready to go, and he provided leadership in warm-ups.”
“Either one of those guys could have [been the first], but at the end of the day, you go with a more veteran guy, Brown elaborated. “Again, I know he didn’t play [in the Stanley Cup Final], but he’s a big part off the ice and behind the scenes that a lot of people didn’t see.”
Backtracking just a bit…according to NHL traditions, after the captain skates with the Stanley Cup, the next in line are usually players who had never won that revered trophy before, like Gaborik and Regher.
“That’s tradition,” said center Jarret Stoll, who, like Brown, won the Cup with the Kings in 2012. “That’s the type of guys we are. That’s how it is. Robyn played his 1,000th [NHL regular season] game this year, and he just won a Stanley Cup tonight. What a feeling, what a great moment for him, his family.”
“For Regehr, for him to play [over] 1,000 [regular season] games, for him to finally get [a Stanley Cup Championship], it’s unbelievable,” said Martinez. “I just couldn’t be happier for guys like that.”
Regehr then passed the Cup to Gaborik, who led all players in goals scored during the playoffs with 14.
“That’s what you’ve got to do,” Stoll noted. “Gaborik? Same thing. [He’s] played a lot of regular season games and a lot of playoff games, but he’d never won a Cup.”
Regher was blown away by Brown’s gesture, even though he had an idea that he would get the Cup first.
“It was amazing,” Regehr indicated. “I had a little bit of an idea. [Veteran defenseman] Matt [Greene] and some of the other veteran guys were talking about it before and [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 felt great,” Regher added. “For him to do that—I’ve been waiting 15 years for an opportunity and to get that chance is an awesome feeling.”
“I got within a goal about ten years ago. To get back here again was just awesome.”
Regher’s enthusiasm and excitement about becoming a Stanley Cup Champion could have easily been put on hold by the fact that, as mentioned earlier, he did not play in the Stanley Cup Final.
But he never complained or sulked.
“There’s all kinds of good roles within a team,” he noted. “Some of them are big, some of them are small. For me, unfortunately, I hurt my knee in the first game against Anaheim [in the second round of the playoffs], so I got moved to a smaller role, but one I can still do a good job at, regardless, and try to make the most of. So I did that.”
“I worked hard at trying to get back, but the guys who came in, Jeff Schultz and Matt Greene—these guys played amazing,” he added. “They did a great job, and as a team, we got the job done. That’s the most important thing.”
As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
“It would’ve been nice to play [in the Stanley Cup Final], but with the circumstances the way they were, also the guys who had a chance to step in and play they way that they did—Jeff Schultz had the opportunity and played very well in the Anaheim series,” said Regher. “Matt Greene came in and played very, very well for us.”
“That’s what being a team is all about,” added Regher. “When you get that opportunity as a player and you step in there, do the job and do it well—those guys did—it was just great to be part of this (winning the Stanley Cup) now. This is why [he and his family] came to L.A—the opportunity to win championships. That’s all that matters.”
Regehr certainly got that opportunity, despite not playing in the Stanley Cup Final.
“That’s what it’s all about,” he emphasized. “It’s about being involved with a championship winning team. Now I can check that box. I was talking to the guys who’ve done it before. It’s something they’ll cherish forever. They’ll have those feelings and memories forever. It’s something that’s very exciting.”
Raw Audio Interview
(Extraneous material and dead air have been removed; click on the arrow to listen):
Robyn Regher (2:51)
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