There was a time when Daymond Langkow for Lee Stempniak would have spurred me into a blind rage. I'd of about threatened bodily harm upon Flames management and contemplated an affiliation change.
That time is LONG gone.
I'm not sad to Langkow go. Not a bit. In fact, I've been pushing for his trade since his last healthy trade deadline. This point of view has cost me some credibility in the past, and numerous times, my thoughts on Lanks have earned me a stiff decline in twitter followers. That's fine.
To properly understand what drove me to these beliefs, we have to look back at the circumstances that led to my personal Daymond Langkow downfall. It all started with the hiring of Jim Playfair.
First of all - I have to thank Arik and Hayley for the opportunity to join a knowledgeable and objective group here at M & G. I look forward to adding to the Flames content and providing another voice on the topic. Also, thank you to Kent Wilson for pushing this idea on everyone, it's much appreciated.
Back to Langkow.
The hiring of Playfair was inevitable. Darryl Sutter had said so numerous times; he was being groomed to take over behind the bench once Darryl would decide to take his talents exclusively upstairs. Outside of the fact that Playfair was unable to truly adjust to the new post-lockout game, his major problem lied in the fact he had a bunch of players who needed to have their butts kicked a la Darryl, in order to get the most out of them: Huselius, Tanguay, Phaneuf etc. Despite his hard-nosed persona, accountability somehow went out the window, and the compete level began to drop. Langkow enjoyed a career year statistically - but the groundwork would be laid for what was to come in the following years.
Mike Keenan was inexplicably hired and accountability was officially and totally out the window. The Flames were transforming from a team that everyone hated to play against, into a fairly soft team, mainly concerned about righting their goal-scoring issues that had plagued them in the past. No lead would ever be safe during this 3-year stretch and the bad habits that were instilled would prove extremely hard to conquer.
Finally, Brent Sutter was brought in. What had previously been an aberration in the way the Flames were playing, had now become the norm. I believe Langkow, among many others, fell victim to this. The steady, two-way defender was still the best the Flames had in the defensive centre role, but he no longer played with that umph, or vigor... it looked like he was comfortable. Like he was settled in Calgary with a nice, lucrative, long-term deal to play in his home province. DomeBeers recently touched on this theory in his analysis of the Scott Hannan acquistion and I found myself nodding my head at different points he was making during the sarcasm-laced "quoteth" section of the entry.
Langkow officially wore out his welcome with me in the 09-10 season, his worst statistical season in 10 years. But, for me, it wasn't just about his lack of point production, jarring, as it were. It was about his effort level which, compared to his first years with the team, was lacking. Langkow used to be counted on to go into the corner and come out with the puck, somewhere along the way, this stopped being a priority and after years of our expectations being worn down, we stopped caring.
It was about his lack of focus. Too easily could Langkow be chased off the puck and often hit to the ice. There's method to the image I chose to lead off the article as it was the one I felt was the best at describing the way I see Langkow. We don't know the circumstances surrounding Adrian Aucoin stealing the puck from him, but that sort of thing didn't happen before the reign of Playfair/Keenan.
So Langkow's in tough with a 47% offensive zone start. clap... clap... clap... Great, just the guy I want at centre in the defensive zone with the game on the line. He of the 43% faceoff winning percentage. There are times when FO% can be overrated, this particular time is not one of them.
Once a player has been labeled in your own mind, you tend to critique their work with a fine-tooth comb, and I have no doubts that this happened to me with my criticism of Langkow. But, when, in a second-half game against Minny in 2010, Langkow (while on the PK) literally jumped out of the way of an oncoming point shot when he had the shooting lane completely filled. That was it for me.
I'm not going to be dancing in the streets over this trade, but at this point, the opportunity to re-sign a capable 20-goal winger who's seven years younger than Langkow outweighs what he would bring to the Flames this season. Of course, Feaster should've gotten more considering the Coyotes came calling, but, get used to it - historically, and currently, the man loses trades at the same clip the Red Wings qualify for the playoffs.
I completely understand the defense of Langkow as well, as the underlying advanced stats bode well in his favor. It was the stuff I witnessed from my seat in the 'dome that led me to believe otherwise. Regardless of my feelings on Langkow, a gaping hole still exists on the Flames roster in that of a defensive centre capable of filling the shut-down role against the elite in the West - and it's possible Langkow could have filled that role.
"It's possible", "could", "maybe", "if he's 100%", "if he plays like 3 years ago" ... on and on and on. These are the oft-italicized phrases I keep happening on as I read the many Langkow posts. Frankly, it's going to take something a lot more definitive than that to convince me that he'll really be missed.
Thanks for taking the time to read my first post on Matchsticks & Gasoline. I'm not an eternal pessimist, I'm just against constant mediocrity. I don't think the Flames need a total re-build, just a re-tooling (and let's start with upper management, please). My favorite Flame, hell, athlete of all-time is Theoren Fleury. My favorite Flames moment is sitting in my seat at the 'dome for the Game 6, OT and series-clinching Gelinas goal against Detroit, with my bro. My favorite sports moment of all time is the Joe Carter World Series-winning, walk-off HR. At the Canada-Russia QF game in Vancouver, I refused to cheer for Luongo despite the red Maple Leaf on his chest. I was born and raised in small-town southern Alberta and fortunately, my Dad was a Flames fan. I'm a HUGE sports fan, avid pro-line and sportsbook player and a film/TV buff. In addition to leaving a comment here at M&G, please feel free to email me or reply on twitter (@MG_mslepp).