On the Mend

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 14:  Daymond Langkow #22 of the Calgary Flames skates with the puck in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 14,2009 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. The Flames won 5-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

It was one of the scariest moments I can remember watching hockey.  Flames forward Daymond Langkow suffered a neck injury on a seemingly innocent looking play early in the second period of a game in Minnesota on March 21st.  The immediate good news was delivered shortly after Langkow left the ice, in that he was moving around.  However, the injury would end Langkow’s season, and it has put in doubt his return to start the upcoming season.  But from who I’ve talked to over the last few weeks, things seem to be looking up, which is only good news for the Flames.

The news wasn’t so good at the beginning of July, however.  Flames GM Darryl Sutter addressed the situation following his busy July 1st signing frenzy.  You could tell Sutter was a little worried about the lack of progress, saying that Daymond was around 60%.  The uncertainy around the situation has prompted plenty of speculation, from long term injury reserve questions to rumblings the injury could be career threatening.  But it seems that talk may be premature as we approach the start of training camp next month.

Two very strong sources suggested things are looking a whole lot better than they were when Darryl first updated us back on July 2nd.  Sutter was not pulling the wool over our eyes though, as at that time, there was a lot of worry about the lack of progress.  The first inkling I got came from someone inside the Flames organization, back during development camp.  The progress had really started to accellerate, and the feeling was that things were closer to 75% at that time.  It was also relayed that it seemed like Langkow was feeling much better as well, and that if the progression continued, he might be back close to the start of training camp or the season.

The other source was Peter Maher, the long time voice of the Calgary Flames.  He joined us on The Fan 960 on Saturday, and he had heard very much the same things regarding Langkow.  Even if the timetable isn’t quite accurate, the general feeling seems to be a whole lot more positive than it was six weeks ago.  From a straight human perspective, it’s clearly good news…and from a hockey standpoint, it’s pretty darn good as well.

Kent wrote a piece defending Langkow back during the season, and I wrote something very similar over on The Fan website late in June.  His value on this team is pretty cut and dried for me, and for a lot of Flames fans out there.  In terms of a two way forward, he’s the best they’ve got.  Yes, his offensive numbers were down last year, and yes, he turns 34 in September…but there’s no question he helps this team.  Judging on what we saw from names like Jokinen, Iginla, and Stajan last year, it’s going to be extremely important to have a player to play consistent tough minutes.  That’s what Langkow does.

So, count me on board with being happy the news seems to be much better on the Langkow front…happy things are progressing, because you never want to see that happen to anyone.  And happy to hear that an important member of the team might be back in uniform sooner than we may have thought.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    That’s certainly good news for Langkow and the Flames.

    Now, what the hell do we do with Langkow, Stajan, Jokinen, Backlund, and Conroy?

    I think Fustter ought to trade Stajan or Jokinen, both for cap relief and to give Backlund some quality 3rd or 2nd line time this year.

      • I don’t know, I’m pretty sure he’s ready for his first full season of the NHL, i don’t think Backlund will be playing on the wing, although not impossible…. maybe one of the other centers would play on the wing..

        • Backlund costs 1.27M against the cap. If he’s not playing instead of Langkow, I highly doubt he’ll remain on a Flames roster where everyone is healthy. He may or may not be ready for prime time, but the club is awash in veterans and has serious cap issues to boot. Langkow not on LTIR = Backlund not on the team (until someone else gets injured).

      • I agree it could very well be the AHL for Backlund. However, I don’t think they signed Jokinen based on a lack of faith in Backlund, at least not in his ability to play third line.

        I think they saw a real possibility that Langkow may not be back to start the season and they weren’t comfortable with Stajan/Backlund as their top 2 centres.

        I think they want to play him this year and will given the opportunity. I just hope they don’t convert him to wing. I would rather see him in the AHL then that.

  • I’d say it depends on camp, and what Sutter does for cap relief prior to it. If there’s space, there is no reason for Backs to be in the AHL. Similarly, if Backlund just rips it up preseason then Sutter may just throw a vet or two into the AHL, even if it wasn’t originally in his plan.

    • I’m not picking on you here SOV, because this is common sentiment, but…people altogether overrate the importance of training camp. An exhibition season peppered with some practices and games against semi-NHL competition is a really small and non-representative sample to judge a player on. Most GM’s and coaches already have a really good idea of what they’re getting when it comes to TC and I’m guessing what they see is mainly what they expect to see. Every Sept we see odd names pop up on the pre-season “scoring leader” board only to see almost all of them banished to the minors soon after.

      The org clearly really likes Backlund and I think they’ll give him a chance if they can. However, I think it’ll have way more to do with the cap and injury situations than what the kid does in TC.

  • Has Langks ever played wing, and is there any reason he shouldn’t be tried there? His f/o abilities are pretty terrible, and moving him to the wing would give the team more options in terms of whether they used Backlund or not.

    @Kent: fair point.

  • Why not try Backlund on a line with Bourque & Langkow, that way either Lanks or Backs could take the faceoff. It would give Backlund a ton of experience and he’d be playing with 2 of the flames who move the puck north most frequently.

    Iginla Jokinen Tanguay we all unfortunately know is the first line.

    Hagman Stajan Glencross (or Kotalik but hopefully he’s gone) as a 3rd grouping.

    And finally Moss Conroy & 1/2 of the Bash Brothers alternating to close out the Offense.

    Maybe switch Glencross & Moss up? I would be somewhat happy with that lineup. Or maybe switch Stajan & Backlund so Backs could have softer comp?

    Our offense isn’t looking horrible, there’s some good players with a decent amount of speed and skill. Definitely looks more promising than it did last year.

  • I think I’d prefer Langkow and Bourque play with Stajan centering them (again, assuming Langkow was wing) for a line to match up against the heavies. Backlund with Hagman/Moss or Hagman/GlenX could do pretty well in more sheltered minutes.

  • Personally I think Jokinen is a better candidate for wing then Langkow. Jokinen’s face off is definitely better, but his play style converts to wing better imo.

    That said, if Langkow’s play will tolerate moving to wing I would love to see him there with Stajan and Bourque. Good defensive line. It also leaves a line of Hagman – Backlund – Kotalik/Moss which could be interesting.

  • I still think Sutter’s thoughts of getting around the salary cap is to send the best prospect they have in Backlund to the minors and put Langkow on the LTIR. It may be just like the Mogilny thing in NJ a few years ago. Langs may be ready but the Flames may not be ready to take him back because Sutter has some love in with Staios, Kotalik and Jokinen.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    The Flames currently have 4 LW and 5 RW on one-way deals, but only 3 C on one-way deals: Langkow, Stajan, and Jokinen.

    I don’t think that moving 1 of the 3 centres to the wing so that they can bring in Backlund for the 3rd line, as well as Conroy/Sutter for the 4th line is going to happen.

    If Langkow plays, then Backlund does not. Unless some major, and multiple, trades/demotions/KHL transfers happen.

  • MC Hockey

    Gotta agree with Beeker73…Flames have set the table for Backlund to go to AHL…sucks but maybe a serious injury to another guy (not that I wish that!) or Langkow healing slower will cause a LTIR and bring him back.

  • MC Hockey

    What has Backlund ever done in any pro league to merit any shot in the NHL?


    I can only think of one thing, that being the rate he generated shots at the AHL (a positive arrow for a guy supposedly notable for his offense) but nobody ever mentions that.

    Literally every other arrow is negative.

    On the thin evidence we have, Backlund doesn’t cut it on NHL ice.