SUN Hockey Pool

Langkow shut down after latest setback

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:20 PM ET

It's looking more and more like Daymond Langkow has played his final game in the NHL.

A Flames official tells the Sun it's now about "a 50-50 proposition" as to whether the 34-year-old can come back from the neck injury he sustained late last season when a slap shot on an awkward play did damage to his spinal cord.

The latest setback came last week when Langkow and the team's doctors decided to shut him down after he experienced numbness below the waist during heavy exertion.

"Zero progress then a step backwards," GM Darryl Sutter said of the decision to take Langkow off the ice and shut down all exercise last week.

"We'll try this, and your guess is as good as mine. We're eight months into it and here we are -- that's a concern."

Langkow, the team's second-highest paid forward at $4.5 million, has yet another year left on his contract next season.

The Flames have been concerned all along about Langkow's lack of progress, which helps explain why they picked up centres Olli Jokinen and Brendan Morrison.

"Be thankful our centremen have done a good job for us," said Sutter, whose club has not made Langkow available to the media for some time as he quietly contemplates his future.

"This is not a hockey decision -- it's a life decision," added coach Brent Sutter.

HARDLY STARSTRUCK

The Dallas Stars' solid start is not being mirrored by attendance, which is a surprising development in a once-solid hockey market.

After two decades of sellouts, the team is now 26th in NHL attendance, averaging 13,760 in six home dates (74.3% capacity). That includes a sellout when Mike Modano returned with the Detroit Red Wings.

Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk says plenty of it has to do with the Texas Rangers making their first World Series appearance. But with the bank stepping in following owner Tom Hicks' recent loan defaults, the team is also short on money to market the team.

"We're still running things around here -- that may change," said Nieuwendyk, whose season-ticket base took a dive during the club's tumultuous summer.

"They've made cutbacks, for sure. How much, I don't know. They're doing the best they can. This ownership thing has been going on so long, fans just want to know the end result."

Pointing out the club has a great building and a great young offence, Nieuwendyk is confident things will turn around once the World Series is over. Still, things got worse Saturday when the baseball game in nearby Arlington overlapped the Stars' 4-0 win over Buffalo, prompting Nieuwendyk to joke on his way to the rink, "a lot of people will be dressed up as empty seats tonight."

Attendance was announced at 15,015, but it was suggested the real number was closer to half of that.

LOMBO IN LIMBO

Former Flame Matthew Lombardi is once again battling concussion problems. Lombardi, who was tabbed to be Nashville's first-line centre this year, has yet to play since Game 2 when he suffered a head injury much like the one that sidelined him for months when Derian Hatcher delivered a vicious elbow during the 2004 playoff run. Preds GM David Poile said Saturday Lombardi is "week to week."

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ericfrancis

Eric Francis appears regularly as a panelist on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada


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