Celebrating Daymond Langkow

About six months ago I was planning on penning a piece like this, except as a eulogy for Langkow’s career, cut tragically short by an unfortunate injury. All the signs pointed to Daymond Langkow never playing hockey again – each attempt at a comeback was met with a significant regression, to the point he wasn’t even skating mid-season.

It’s therefore something of a minor miracle that he is playing tonight. I don’t know how effective the 34-year old will be after sitting on the sidelines for more than a calender year, but I am certain the team has be worse for his absence.

In March of last year I penned a defense of Daymond Langkow. Spurred by lackluster scoring totals, the general Flames fanbase had begun to turn on Lanks thanks to the perception that his value was not living up tp his cap hit. 

The truth is, though, Langkow has been the best two-way center on this team since he was acquired and in the wake of Sutter’s failed experiment of matching Iginla and/or Jokinen against top lines, Langkow was handed the unheralded role of being the Flames go-to shut-down option last season. His counting numbers suffered for it, but he continued to get the job done nonetheless. Amongst regular centers on the team last year, Langkow started most often in the defensive zone (zone start = 47.7%), played some of the toughest competition, but still ended up with one of the best possession rates on the team (+7.65/60). His regular linemates ranged from Nigel Dawes to Ales Kotalik and they all ended up above water in terms of advanced numbers, no doubt thanks to Langkow’s influence. Dubbed "Mr. Chemistry" by Matt Fenwick years ago, Langkow is that rare player who quietly makes his line mates better. In his absence, Rene Bourque has seemingly gone from a difference maker to an inconsistent floater for example. Remember when Langkow, Huselius and Iginla was one of the best first lines in the league?

Langkow is an easy guy to underestimate because there’s nothing overly compelling about him. He isn’t very big and he doesn’t knock people down. His skates in a sort of squat, choppy manner. He doesn’t have a blazing shot, nor does he make Tanguay-ian passes through sticks and skates. He’s also fairly terrible in the face-off circle. Despite those issues, Langkow simply gets the job done. He’s a guy who rarely makes an error, is almost always in the right position and is excellent at winning puck possession along the boards despite his lack of size. He also has some of the best hand-eye coordination on the team and is probably the best player at tipping pucks the club has had in years. Langkow isn’t great at any one thing and he doesn’t have the physical tools that make people notice him, but he’s good-to-very good at just everything that matters.That’s why he ended up with one of the best scoring chance ratios on the team last season. There’s no doubt that Brent’s unending "dance of the match-ups" this season has been due to the lack of a proven, tough-minutes pivot like Langkow on the roster.

It’s an open question whether Daymond can come back and be the same guy he was given his age and the extent of his injury. He’ll turn 35-years old next September, which is about the time guys really start to fall of a cliff. Those issues can be assessed and dealt with when they crop up, however. For now we can welcome back Langkow with open arms.

Congratulations on the recovery, Daymond. We’ve missed you.

  • Welcome back Langkow!

    He really has been one of my favorite flames over the last 5 years or so and was very sad to see him get hurt. Its great to see him back. Hopefully he can be an effective player instead of a shell of the man he used to be. I’m hoping this carries over to the next year and he will be just as good as he once was (eventually of course). If nothing more this will be a victory lap of his determination and pain threshold.

    Best of luck!

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    I think Langks is the kind of player whose skills diminish more slowly than others because he doesn’t rely on speed and power, but experience and intelligence.

    I’d bet that he has another 5 good years, assuming the injury hasn’t done more damage than expected.

  • Robert Cleave

    Thanks for posting this, Kent. I’ll only add that I hope his mid to late 30’s are as fruitful as Craig Conroy’s turned out to be. I’m not expecting much over the next week from DL, but I am very happy to see him back in any state, because that looked a most unlikely prospect for much of the winter.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    smart move by the org to get langks back in there after the fans were let down last game against anaheim. nice little morale booster and a nudge towards being excited about next season’s possibilities….

    i said it before and i’ll say it again: if the flames don’t make the playoffs this year (which looks to be the case), fleury’s #14 will get lifted to the rafters next season perhaps as early as opening night. watch for an announcement anytime, would be my guess.

    i’m just really honestly happy for daymond langkow the MAN —that he’s healthy and suffering no lasting damage from such an unfortunate incident. we’ll see how things go for daymond langkow the hockey player….

    • Yeah, while I am happy for Langkow and echo all the positive things that Kent had to say about his value to the club, my initial reaction to this (based at least partially on all the recent press on the influence of the purported non-hockey management on the hockey operations department) was “I guess Ken King wanted to give the fans a reason to watch these last four games.

      This may be unduly cynical – but I bet there is some truth to it as well. It can’t be solely a hockey only move.

      • wattree

        With him signed for next year, I think that they wanted him to get his feet wet before the end of the season. I’d be awfully hard on a guys confidence to spend the summer wondering how it’s going to feel in a game.

  • Great news indeed!

    I remember the days of Phaneuf, when he would be out of position and fire it high and wide. Puck would come out of the opponent’s zone, and who would be the one to chase down the inevitable 3 on 0? Daymond Langkow.

    I always cursed his name for being old and slow, but really, he was the only one doing something right on the ice at that point.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    So glad 22 is back.

    If a fully recovered Langkow is in the lineup when Morrison et al go down, Flames make the playoffs. Simple as that.

    I don’t play 6/49, so I’m not betting on the Flames making the dance.

  • Robert Cleave

    So glad to see Lanks back in the lineup. It’s probably too late for him to help them make the playoffs, but it’s great nonetheless because I thought he was done. Calling for a hatty from Lanks tonight! 😀