Sniper's Lang road to glory

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:05 PM ET


 There was a time when Robert Lang wanted nothing more than to wear the Flaming C.

 The flashy Czech forward attended training camp with the Calgary Flames in September of 1996 but was unable to work out a contract and was forced to leave town to find work.

 "It was one of those things," said Lang, now a member of the Detroit Red Wings -- the Flames' second-round playoff opponent.

 Lang stressed he harbours no ill will toward the franchise that snubbed him nearly a decade ago.

 "You come in, it doesn't work out and you move on. It's business. It wasn't harsh or anything like that," he said.

 "We couldn't agree on terms and, in a career, it's going to happen more than once."

 It took a while but things worked out just fine for Lang.

 He was signed by the Edmonton Oilers but was loaned to a club team in the Czech Republic.

 Signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1997, Lang was claimed by the Boston Bruins in the waiver draft before the Pens snatched him back less than a month later.

 But it was in Washington where Lang blossomed into one of the league's most feared snipers.

 He was on pace to win the scoring title this year until a rib injury sidelined him and allowed former Flame Martin St. Louis to skate off with the Art Ross Trophy.

 Lang has had the opportunity to play with some of the greatest players in NHL history: Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

 And now, well, there are too many big names to count on the Red Wings' star-studded roster.

 "I've been lucky," said Lang, who also won an Olympic gold medal with the Czech Republic in 1998.

 "I played with Gretz (as a member of the L.A. Kings, who drafted Lang) and now it's Stevie Y and a bunch of guys who are going to be in the Hall of Fame when they retire."

 Lang joined the Wings at the NHL trade deadline -- for prospect Tomas Fleischmann, a first-round pick in this summer's draft and a 2006 fourth-rounder -- as the Capitals peddled their top players to trim salary.

 The 33-year-old has fit in nicely in Detroit and leads the Wings with three goals and seven points in the post-season.

 The Motown sniper said he and his 'mates should have scored a few more goals, especially early in games when the Wings have been dominant.

 "Everyone is ready for the start of the game," Lang said.

 "You have to be because it's pretty tough to come back if you fall behind.

 "The Flames have been playing really good hockey lately."

 The key to beating Calgary, he said, is to avoid becoming frustrated if Flames 'tender Miikka Kiprusoff stands on his head early in the game.

 "There's no reason to be concerned. If you have the chances, eventually they're going to go in.

 "I think you just have to be patient instead of pressing."

 Of course, the Wings' potent powerplay, which finally exploded for three goals in Game 2, could give Detroit the early advantage they seek.

 "We've been working on it for a while and, finally last game, it clicked," Lang said.

 "It's important for any team in the playoffs."


Videos

Photos