blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: Robyn Regehr Interview - 2009 NHLPA Meetings

Monday, June 29, 2009

Robyn Regehr Interview - 2009 NHLPA Meetings

Last week we met with the Calgary Flames' blueline bruiser and player representative Robyn Regehr at the NHLPA Meetings in Las Vegas to discuss expansion, relocation, and his biggest rival. These are his stories.

Q: Discuss the NHLPA's position on Southern US franchises.
A: Now that the players' salary and benefits are tied into a percentage of the HRR number, having teams in some of those areas might not make sense. Gary's vision was to put all these teams in the Southern US and places like that and all of the sudden get a big TV contract and we haven't seen anything like that. The TV contracts have gotten smaller and the teams, a lot of them, are in serious financial trouble.

Q: Is the word contraction ever discussed in NHLPA meetings?
A: There’s never any talk of contraction and that's for a few different reasons. First of all, we want to see as many jobs as possible in the NHL. That being said, there’s also really good places for those hockey teams to go. It was poor judgment by Gary that put these teams in places where they’ve struggled and those are the ones that people talk about contraction. There’s also been some mismanagement. How many lifelines are you going to throw a mismanaged business before it's time for them to either move on or change in some way. I think there are some really good markets available in the US. So the option of contraction hasn’t even been talked about or thought about.

Q: How does the NHLPA approach franchise relocation or expansion in terms of location?
A: You have to look at a bunch of things. How’s the relationship between the fans and that type of team. In Winnipeg there’s a history there so it would probably be really strong in the first couple of years and hopefully for many years after that. If you look at Canada you have to factor in the currency exchange, a lot of people forget about it. Five years ago that was really hampering the Canadian teams to where they were considered a small market team. Well now that currency has swung substantially in the other direction, especially a couple of years ago, where it makes Canada a much more viable market. But there’s that element of risk there. If you go somewhere that's more sustainable in the US you take that risk out of it. So you have to look at a whole bunch of different things when looking at that. I’m not smart enough to say what factors are more important than others or how you prioritize them.

Q: Do you think Las Vegas would succeed as a NHL town?
A: Yes I do for a few different reasons. First of all, I think they do a really good job of marketing here in Vegas. There’s some teams that do a good job of that but here it’s taken to a whole other level and I think it would be pretty successful. There is a minor pro team here and talking to some of the people that have been around that team they say that the fans are great. You also have a lot of people. I’m not sure the numbers on what Vegas attracts for tourists and visitors but it’s a substantial amount every year. To get a fraction of those people in to see hockey, you may be introducing new people to hockey. I think it would be a real exciting opportunity for the NHL to have a team in Vegas.

Q: What about another team in Southern Ontario?
A: I think players would love to have another team in Southern Ontario. It's a place where you would be playing to very knowledgeable hockey fans. It's a place where you'd probably be playing to a capacity crowd and they really do appreciate the franchise. There's been some teams put in really weak areas that could do well in Southern Ontario.

Q: Who’s the Flames biggest rival?
A: Right now? Well historically it’s been Edmonton but over the past couple of years I think Vancouver has really become a pretty heated rivalry.

Q: Who’s your least favorite player on the Vancouver Canucks?
A: The majority of them. I’d have to say Burrows.

Q: Why?
A: I can’t tell you that really. It’s a story that was told to me by a friend in Calgary and I just can’t share that with you.

Many thanks to Robyn for speaking with us. Best of luck next season.