You can take the boy out of Saskatchewan, but, as the saying goes, you’ll never completely take Saskatchewan out of the boy.
“The first place I ever bought was probably midway through my second year pro (with the Florida Panthers),’’ said Shaunavon-born and Frontier-raised Rhett Warrener, a four-season Calgary Flame whose non-negotiable warrior mentality was an indispensable and under-appreciated component of the franchise’s unexpected ’04 trek to the Stanley Cup final.
“It’s just too hot to stay in Florida during the summer. I’d gone back to Saskatoon the first summer, was going back that second summer and everyone there, of course, goes to the lake at that time of the year.
“So, that first place I purchased actually wasn’t a house – it was a cabin. Just south of Waskesiu, about 45 (kilometres) away.”
His purchase caused a bit of a stir among the locals.
“I paid $144,000 for it, and the whole community was in an uproar because I’d spent that kind of money,” he said. “Yeah. The young, arrogant, overpaid athlete that everyone’s mad at – you’ve heard of him? Well, that was me.
“The crazy part was I wasn’t even there! My mom and dad went and looked at it and one of my best friends was on that lake at the time, our parents knew each other, and they’re like, ‘That’s a great spot.’ So, we bought it.”
“I paid $144,000 for it, and the whole community was in an uproar because I’d spent that kind of money. Yeah. The young, arrogant, overpaid athlete that everyone’s mad at – you’ve heard of him? Well, that was me.”
The Panthers’ second-round selection in the 1994 NHL entry draft, Warrener had scouted around his first NHL base for permanent – or as permanent as can be hoped for in the transitory world of professional sports – lodging, but the market in south Florida proved wildly expensive, especially for something suitable near the team’s home arena, BankAtlantic Center.
Cabins aside, Warrener’s first house purchase didn’t arrive until 2002, after he’d been dealt to the Buffalo Sabres.
“Beautiful country, affordable homes … high taxes, mind you, but you get a lot of home for your dollar, and great people live there, in and around Buffalo,’’ he said.
“The house was close to downtown. There’s a strip of old homes, heritage homes, and I was near that.”
He didn’t have much time to get settled into the new place, as he was on the move again the following year.
Blame that short occupancy on the Darryl Sutter-led Flames, who acquired Warrener, along with Steve Reinprecht, in exchange for Chris Drury and Steve Bégin on July 3, 2003. He’s been in the 403 ever since.
Since retiring due to recurring shoulder problems in 2009, Warrener, his wife Christina and their two sons have put down strong roots in Calgary.
The three-time Stanley Cup finalist (one appearance with each of his three NHL organizations) has remained in the public eye as a sports radio morning show co-host, where his candor and irreverence has proven an ideal foil for broadcasters Dean “Boomer” Molberg and Ryan Pinder on Sportsnet 960 the FAN.
“We’ve only owned since coming to Calgary,’’ Warrener said of his real estate experiences here in the city. “Three different homes.”