When Calgary Flames GM spoke on Friday morning, many were interested in his take on his signing of Olli Jokinen, and how he’d heard only positive response. But as people digested and opined on Sutter’s decision to re-sign the former Flame, I was more interested in the GM’s take on another center: Daymond Langkow.
Sutter didn’t bother hiding his concern for Langkow, who suffered a scary neck injury on March 21st in Minnesota. I remember watching that game and noticing how odd it was to see the entire Flames team out on the ice, and wondering if that was an indication of the severity of the injury. When I talked to Flames brass about an hour afterwards, it was quite the relief to hear them say he’s moving and doing just fine en route to a St. Paul hospital.
But that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be a long road back…and that long road is still being trekked. Sutter said Langkow is at around 60% on the comeback trail, which is a little slower than the Flames were hoping. Not from a hockey perspective, but more from a human being perspective…that’s something you want to see happen as quickly as possible. Now, with two months until training camp, a lot more improvement could certainly be in the cards. But I don’t think anyone would blame Sutter and the Flames for making sure their bases were covered on the ice.
I’m not saying the lingering Marc Savard rumours have any legs or that Calgary is about to land Jeff Carter. But you certainly wonder if Flames brass is coming up with some sort of contingency play if Langkow isn’t able to start the season. Don’t get me wrong, not only do I want to see the veteran center get back to 100% because it would be great to see, I want to see him get back for the good of the hockey team. A healthy Langkow helps this team, there’s no question about that.
With Eric Nystrom leaving for Minnesota, you’ve got Langkow, Jokinen, Stajan and Backlund as your four potential centers to start next season. What would Calgary’s contingency plan be? Restricted free agent Brett Sutter can also take shifts down the middle. Maybe that’s the contingency plan. Maybe the Flames are fine with Sutter being the fourth guy if Langkow isn’t ready to start the season. Or maybe they want someone with a more proven NHL pedigree. I don’t know, but I do know it’s a concern, and I do hope that it’s less of one when we’re talking in September.