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Road to recovery

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- For the first time since suffering a fractured vertebra last March, Calgary Flames pivot Daymond Langkow hit the ice with the rest of team for a full practice.

"I was a little 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, I felt pretty good," he said afterward.

Not even 10 minutes into practice, he was hit by defenceman Robyn Regehr - the first real contact he's had since sustaining the injury - but didn't bat an eye at the move.

"Early in the practice, my adrenaline was going and I was just trying to do the drills and do well. I knew I got hit but it seemed natural."

While Langkow's full participation is certainly a positive sign, he could not give a timetable for a possible return. That being said, he also did not rule out the possibility of coming back this season.

"Mentally and physically, I feel fresh. If I do get a chance to get back in the lineup, I'm going to try and use that to my advantage."

Head coach Brent Sutter reiterated that there was no timeline for Langkow but extremely pleased the veteran is now able to take part in practices.

"There's no timetable. 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.

"He looked fine. You know, he's Daymond. He just goes about his business. He's a focused guy. I'm sure he was a little nervous going out there today for the first time but I thought he handled it really well."

The past year has had its ups and downs for Langkow. He admitted there were points that he wondered if his playing career was over but pushed through the doubt and continued on his rehabilitation.

"Obviously it's been tough. Watching games and not being able to play, it's been tough. I got to spend some more time with my family so that's been good. I'm just looking forward to getting back.

"I think we've taken all the necessary precautions. I haven't been on skates for roughly a year so we've been careful. I'm 100% confident in my physical ability right now."

Now that he has been given the green light to go full steam ahead at practice, Langkow is using this time as his own personal training camp. Last week we underwent the physical the team puts players through in the fall and felt fine during the tests.

Given how far he's come since the injury, being on the ice has presented a new problem: impatience. Being able to practice but not play is new struggle for Langkow.

"This next week is going be ... going to be on edge but you know, I've just got to keep working hard and when I get back, I get back."

Langkow's presence at practice is not only a positive for the man himself but for his teammates. After Wednesday's skate, Rene Bourque said practicing alongside Langkow was an emotional boost for the club.

"It's obviously nice to see him out there. I don't know what his timetable is or when he's going to be back but for him to get some practices with the guys, throw the puck around, play some center down low and stuff like that which he hasn't done for awhile, it's good. I'm sure it'll take him awhile to get back into game shape but hopefully it's soon."

After being told his teammates were singing his praises, Langkow was quick to thank them.

"They've been really supportive through this whole thing. They've battled hard all year long and they've put themselves in a good position here. I'd like to get back and try to help them out but at this point, it's hard to say what's going to happen."

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