Langkow forced to restart comeback

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

CALGARY -- By no means must Daymond Langkow rush back into the Calgary Flames lineup.

In fact, it's obvious the Flames are making plans to go through maybe the entire NHL season without the veteran centre, whose recovery from a neck injury has stalled.

Amidst the news the Flames signed veteran centre Brendan Morrison to help alleviate their injury woes up the middle Monday, came news Langkow has been forced to restart what could be a long comeback.

"He's not skating right now," Flames assistant GM Jay Feaster said of the centre who suffered a fractured vertebra last March. "The doctors, they have prescribed rest. His activity level and when he's cleared to skate, it basically is an issue of when he's symptom-free.

"Having skated a couple of weeks ago, he had symptoms again, and the doctors want a period of rest before they clear him to start skating again."

Basically, it's akin to a player battling back from a concussion.

"It's interesting. The doctors have actually called this something like a neck-concussion-type thing, a term I don't have," Feaster said. "It's not a concussion, and yet, as long as the player is having symptoms -- whether it's a tingling sensation or whatever the case may be -- they want him resting."

The curse that's beset Langkow has become the salvation for the Flames via their salary cap woes.

If Langkow misses the 2010-11 season and is put on the long-term injury list, which may very well be a possibility, all of his US$4.25-million cap hit won't count against the league's $54.9-million ceiling.

Since the club is above the cap, even moreso with the signing of Morrison after he inked a one-year, $725,000 deal, it's needed relief.

The Flames must declare their roster Wednesday by 1 p.m.

To be on the long-term list, players must miss at least 10 games and 24 days, with medical proof they will be out of action for that span.

"The thing to remember is there's always a day of reckoning at the point in time the players or players, depending on who is on there, comes back. You have to be in compliance," Feaster said. "It is a short-term solution, LTI (long-term injury), but certainly it's not a long-term solution to our cap situation."

Having 23 healthy players is the goal, especially after players dropped like flies through the pre-season.

After all, the Flames are readying to start the season without Langkow, second-line centre Matt Stajan, David Moss -- a right winger who had been playing centre -- and right-winger Ales Kotalik.

When Stajan returns, which would appear may happen soon since he's been skating and shooting pucks, the Flames are set up to have a top three of Olli Jokinen, Stajan and Morrison, while rookie Mikael Backlund can be moved onto the second or third line as a centre or winger, or even on the fourth unit.

Then again, if Stajan's injury is more serious -- say ... a month or more -- it means one of Craig Conroy, Brett Sutter or Stefan Meyer is the fourth-line middleman.

In short, signing Morrison gives the team much-needed insurance at a reasonable cost, provided he can deliver.

Adding yet another veteran is an indication what's been said all along -- the club has solid prospects but few are ready to jump in and make an impact right away.

A year from now, maybe Mitch Wahl or John Arm-strong or Greg Nemisz will be ready for the role for which the club grabbed Morrison.

But that's not the case now, and they've done the best they could through a horrible situation that's beset Langkow.

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