Langkow could answer prayers

Daymond Langkow skates during Flames practice at the Saddledome this morning. The practice saw...

Daymond Langkow skates during Flames practice at the Saddledome this morning. The practice saw Daymond Langkow return to the ice for a team practice for the first time since injuring his neck almost a year earlier. (LYLE ASPINALL/QMI AGENCY)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:48 PM ET

The Calgary Flames could have found an unexpected solution to their sudden shortage of centres.

After missing about a year with a career-threatening neck injury, veteran pivot Daymond Langkow returned to the Saddledome ice Wednesday morning for a full practice with his teammates.

Langkow even participated in one-on-one battle drills, absorbing a solid bump from rugged rearguard Robyn Regehr.

“I felt pretty good, overall,” Langkow said. “I was a bit nervous at the start but as it went on, I felt more comfortable out there. I did some battle drills and everything else, so overall, it felt pretty good.”

With Brendan Morrison and David Moss both sidelined, the Flames are suddenly short-handed up the middle, the Flames have only three natural centres — Mikael Backlund, Olli Jokinen and Matt Stajan — on their roster.

During a five-minute scrum with the media after practice, Langkow refused to rule out a return before the end of this season.

“This is just another step and we'll go from here,” Langkow said. “It kind of feels like training camp for me. I'm trying to just get back into the best shape I can and get ready as soon as possible.”

Although Langkow has been cleared for full contact, Flames head coach Brent Sutter refused to speculate about a possible return.

It's been a long road back for Langkow, who suffered a fractured vertebra last March.

A neck-injury specialist cleared Langkow to resume light workouts late last month, but few figured there was any chance the 34-year-old would be available for the Flames' current playoff push.

“There's no timetable,” Sutter said. “This is another huge step for him and for him to be able to go out and practice in a full practice and get involved like he did, it's a very encouraging sign. It's another step, which is huge.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca


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