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Color Regehr a player ready to go

Shortly after the trade was completed, Robyn Regehr called Sabres equipment man Dave Williams and asked that he send along some new gear. The veteran defenseman hoped to make a smooth transition from Calgary to Buffalo and figured the first step was getting comfortable wearing blue and gold.

Naturally, it was a little strange at the beginning. Regehr had spent his entire 11-year career playing for the Flames, wearing the blazing "C" sweater and No. 28. He was waiting for a few items from Buffalo when he started working out in Prince Albert, Sask., so he patched together a wardrobe that looked like something out of a beer league.

"I had some Buffalo stuff on, some Calgary stuff on," Regehr said with a laugh. "I looked like Frankenstein. The hardest thing is the change with the numbers when I sign [autographs.] It just becomes automatic. It's almost like breathing. You don't even think about it. Then, all of a sudden, you're screwing up."

Last week, he was delivering Sabres season tickets with Ryan Miller when a woman asked for his signature. He signed his name with "28," as he did for years with Calgary. One problem: Paul Gaustad wears No. 28 for the Sabres. Regehr will wear No. 24 when he plays his first game in a Buffalo uniform tonight against Montreal.

"Sorry," he told the woman. "It's still preseason."

Good point. If it matters, Regehr is a nice guy. He was born in Brazil, where his parents served as Mennonite missionaries before moving back to Saskatchewan. He spent four years of his childhood on a church mission in Indonesia, where his pets included a jungle cat and a monkey. He should be plenty prepared for a few exotic animals he'll see in First Niagara Center this season.

He's also a good, tough defenseman who is certain to improve the Sabres' blue line with aggression you should expect from his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame. His friendly, engaging personality away from the game contradicts what you see on the ice. Let's just say he plays with a surliness and oomph that have been lacking in these parts for several years.

"If guys weren't trying to score on me, I wouldn't be so mean," he said. "You almost need two different personalities to be effective out there. The stuff you do off the ice doesn't always translate to being an effective player. You need to put yourself in a place where the hair on the back of your neck is standing up."

For now, it all sounds like music. The Sabres are getting the proper pieces in place for what many believe will become a contending team, but it's going to take time for them to work out the kinks. Regehr has been here for less than a week and didn't have a clue who would be his defense partner for tonight's game against the Canadiens.

Regehr recently moved into a new home, and his wife gave birth to their second child, Shane, July 28. He's living in a new city for the first time since 1999. He has new teammates, is playing in another conference and under a different system. It could take several months before he fully adjusts to Buffalo.

Be patient, my friends.

Just know that the guy can play. He was among the Flames' most dependable and consistent defensemen for nearly a decade. He had a no-movement clause in his contract with the Flames and could have killed the trade that brought him to Buffalo, but he was impressed by what he heard from owner Terry Pegula.

Now, with Regehr wearing blue and gold, it looks like a good fit.

"I'm very anxious to get going," Regehr said. "We've been here for a little while now and all the guys have skated. Everybody is getting antsy with what we've seen and the expectations around here. We can't wait to really get moving here. It's going to be a little awkward, but I've had my practice jerseys on."

email: bgleason@buffnews.com

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