SUN Hockey Pool

Langkow’s return positive for Flames future

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:13 AM ET

One of the more important developments of the year for the Calgary Flames came Friday when Daymond Langkow returned to the lineup.

Starting on the fourth line and progressing to the top unit in time for the team’s third-period comeback in St. Louis, his successful return from a year-long neck injury gives acting GM Jay Feaster important information as the club plans for the future.

Absorbing a cross-check from Blues defenceman Barret Jackman as part of his battle test, Langkow got right up and subsequently satisfied both himself and the organization he can be included in the club’s plans for next season.

“We needed to know as an organization,” coach Brent Sutter said of Langkow’s status.

“I was joking that getting him back might be the best trade ever made in hockey on April 1. He was our best centre last year.”

While his return likely came too late to help the club this year, he returned in time to answer off-season questions that could have clouded Feaster’s approach this summer.

Langkow still has one year left on his contract at

US$4.5 million, giving the team three centres (Olli Jokinen and Matt Stajan) earning at least $3 million. That’s bad news for the team’s top centre this year, Brendan Morrison, who likely can’t be brought back if the unrestricted free agent is looking for a sizable and well-deserved bump to his $700,000 salary. Morrison can also play wing, but his knee injury and age further complicate the issue.

“Daymond was in my office the last 10 days begging to get into the lineup, but we didn’t want to put him at risk or in a position to fail,” said Sutter.

He didn’t, and while some will see Langkow’s contract as a burden for the cash-strapped team, at least Feaster knows what he has to work with.

Now for more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world wondering how many years it has been since there was this much optimism surrounding the Blue Jays.

Around the horn

If you felt the Flames were jobbed by the NHL’s war room in Wednesday’s critical loss to Anaheim, you’re not alone. League disciplinarian Colin Campbell received a call from an incensed Flames owner minutes later, wondering how the non-goal could be ruled as such … Interesting study by the Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont, who took a snapshot of every team’s 20-man roster last week to determine how many players were still with the team that drafted them or signed them out of college, junior, the minors or Europe. Of the 274 ‘originals’ in the league only four were playing for the Flames — lowest in the league. What’s worse, only two (Mikael Backlund and Mark Giordano) are regulars, as the other two were recent call-ups: Lance Bouma and Greg Nemisz, who combined for three minutes of action Friday. By comparison, seven teams had more than a dozen originals, including Buffalo and Nashville with 14. New Jersey, Detroit and the Islanders all have 13 originals, while Ottawa and Colorado have 12 apiece. While such a study re-emphasizes how horrible the Flames draft record has been, most veteran teams have few originals.

Parting gifts

Story that won’t seem to go away: The two gay men sitting in the first row behind the Vancouver Canucks’ bench wearing blue wigs, red lipstick and pick t-shirts declaring themselves Hockey Luvin’ Homos. Asked to leave

Thursday’s game at Rogers Arena after refusing to put duct tape back over the derogatory term for gays, the lads were back for Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. The back of their shirts read Henrietta and Daniella. Stay tuned ... Not only does this week’s

Masters symbolize the beginning of the golf season, it also represents the most popular week of the year to have a vasectomy. After all, there’s no better weekend to have to stay off your feet and in front of the TV with a cold beer and even colder bag of peas.


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