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Where Are They Now: David Ling

Spirited forward skated three seasons with the CBJ before traveling the world to play hockey

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

David Ling played for the Montreal Canadiens and the Columbus Blue Jackets, spending 93 games at the NHL level. 

But he also played for such teams as the Nottingham Panthers and Val Pusteria Wolves, among others. 

In all, Ling played thousands of games and laced up the skates well past the age of 40. He skated for a decade in the pro leagues in the United States and Canada, then went overseas to play in the hockey hotbeds of Russia and Finland as well as such countries as Switzerland, England and Italy, where the sport isn't quite as big a part of the cultural zeitgeist. 

Through it all, he had a blast, from the highs of the NHL to finding his way to different locales across the world. 

Video: Where Are They Now: Ling

"Everyone asks me, why did you play so long, and a smile comes on my face," the former CBJ forward said on the latest edition of Where Are They Now, presented by Huntington Bank, an interview series with former Blue Jackets players from the first 20 seasons of CBJ hockey. 

"I still play. I never say no to a pickup game or a team that needs an extra player. I never say no. I love paying. I love joking around the dressing room. I love being out on the ice. I'm probably not as good as I used to be, but I still enjoy it. Even in rec league, to score a goal, you still get that feeling of, 'Oh yeah!' It's a feeling that you don't get in normal life." 

Ling might not be as good as he once was, but that's because he was quite a player. The Halifax, Nova Scotia, native led the OHL in 1994-95 with 61 goals, ahead of such names as Todd Bertuzzi, Jeff O'Neill and Jamie Langenbrunner, on the way to being a seventh-round pick of the Quebec Nordiques in 1993. 

He made his NHL debut with Montreal with two games in 1996-97 but didn't become a regular in the league until arriving in Columbus. A noted personality who was loved by his teammates, Ling skated in five games in 2001-02, 35 the next season and then 50 more in 2003-04, totaling four goals and four assists as a checking line forward who wasn't afraid to mix it up despite being just 5-9. 

From there, despite some standout AHL numbers - including a season with Kansas City of the AHL in 1999-2000 that included 35 goals and 210 penalty minutes - he went overseas, skating in a variety of countries before returning to North America and playing for Brampton of the ECHL. 

"It's an experience that when you're in it, you don't really appreciate it, but when you look back on being able to get paid to travel the world, it's something a lot of people don't get the chance to do," Ling said. "I got to see countries I probably wouldn't have visited in my life, and I really enjoyed it. 

"Every country had its pros and cons. I lived on a ski hill in Italy. I loved in a Russian town that was 30 kilometers from Cina in Khabarovsk. I was all over. It was an experience at the time that I was just loving to play hockey, but looking back, I appreciate what I was able to see and experience outside of hockey." 

Watch the full interview above to hear Ling reminisce about his days with the Blue Jackets, his friendship with fellow Nova Scotia native Jody Shelley, surviving as a 5-9 forward in a much more physical NHL, and his current job as a financial advisor. 

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