Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
On this day in 2011, the Calgary Flames acquired Lee Stempniak
5 months ago
On this day in 2011, the Calgary Flames traded one of their best centres, Daymond Langkow, in exchange for veteran forward Lee Stempniak.
Stempniak didn’t know that a dentist appointment and a missed phone call would bring the man from New York to Stampede City. With a half-numb mouth, his younger brother gave him a call and told him the news himself: he’d be packing his bags and heading to Calgary.
After two disappointing ends to what could have been Stanley Cup Playoff runs, the Coyotes decided they needed someone to take on a veteran role and be able to lead a team of the younger generation by example. Langkow was that guy at the expense of Stempniak.
“I’m really excited to get to Calgary. I’ve always loved playing in the Saddledome. You can tell as a visiting player, there’s energy in the city. Passionate fans,” the forward expressed to the Calgary Herald’s Vicki Hall.
“They’ve got a lot of talented players. Great goaltending. Tough defenceman. It’s a team that’s always hard to play against, as a player you want to join a group like that.”
Langkow was the team’s best centre, and Stempniak had just had an underwhelming season, with the Coyotes scoring only 19 goals and 38 points. Stempniak’s expectations weren’t overly high, and the market was expecting something under 20 goals while sitting on either the third or fourth line.
Stempniak traded to Flames from Coyotes
To some surprise, he shocked a lot of people. With the challenge of overcoming a leg injury in his first season, he still scored 14 goals and 28 points. That total and his ability to demonstrate his responsibility on both ends of the ice was enough for the club to re-sign him for another two-year deal worth $5 million on June 29th, 2012.
The extension paid off the following season; Stempniak tied the team lead for scoring with nine goals and 32 points, alongside Mike Cammalleri’s 13 goals and 32 points. Unfortunately for the Flames, their season record of 19-25-4 didn’t boast the same success, and the Flames placed 25th in the league, missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
The following season, he’d join the team for 52 games, scoring eight goals and 23 points, before being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins just before the deadline in March. In return, Calgary received a third-round pick in 2014 (Matt Iacopelli), which the Flames traded to the Chicago Blackhawks.
During his time in Calgary, Stempniak’s impact extended off the ice. He was involved in a handful of charitable activities and community initiatives, giving back to a city that embraced him. His career continued in Pittsburgh, then moved to the New York York Rangers, Winnipeg Jets, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins, and Carolina Hurricanes. Still, his time in Calgary remained a defining point of his career. Stempniak continued playing a role in the NHL after retiring in 2019. Last year, he accepted a position in player development with the Arizona Coyotes.
Daymond Langkow returned from a terrifying injury with the Flames after getting hit by a shot in the back of his neck. He went on to help Phoenix reach a Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings in 2011-12. The club ultimately lost four games to one. That year would mark his last year in the NHL, scoring 11 goals and 81 points, with an additional goal and six points in the playoffs.
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