On the Sharks recent six-game roadtrip, Rink Report took some time to sit down with right wing Josh Langfeld. As the lone free agent brought to San Jose during the off-season, Langfeld’s background, skills and age (28) fit right in with the direction Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson has charted for the team. He was originally a third round selection of the Ottawa Senators in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft (the same year the Sharks selected Patrick Marleau and Scott Hannan).
Langfeld, who appeared in 51 NHL games with Ottawa prior to the 2005-06 season posting 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists), racked up 32 goals and 57 points in 74 games with the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League last season. Despite being named to the AHL All-Star team in 2003-04, Langfeld, a natural right wing, had trouble consistently cracking an Ottawa lineup that already featured Daniel Alfredsson, Marian Hossa (now with Atlanta) and Martin Havlat on the right side.
The Sharks hope that the opportunity to play on a regular basis in the NHL will allow Langfeld to blossom into a steady offensive force. Sharks fans need to look no further than Nils Ekman to know there are talented players waiting outside the NHL for their chance to shine.
Despite suffering a knee injury that delayed his start to the 2005-06 season, Langfled has fit in well thus far and is looking forward to a more consistent role.
RR: How has this year been for you so far?
JL: It’s been good. It’s difficult starting with an injury and being the only new guy coming in to a new team, but my first few games have gone pretty well.
RR: After spending all of your career in the Ottawa organization, how did it feel to make a change?
JL: It’s a little strange being around different guys at first. You’re just trying to fit in and be yourself but also meet new people at the same time. You get more comfortable the more you play together and the more you spend time together, like this long road trip.
RR: Why did you choose San Jose ?
JL: There were a number of teams I talked to but in talking with my agent and Doug Wilson, it seemed like a good fit for me. We thought it was the best spot for me. It’s a great young hockey club that made great strides two years ago and I just wanted to be a part of it.
RR: And very similar to the club you came from.
JL: Exactly. Both teams were built well through the draft, not by chasing a lot of free agents. It’s just a solid organization.
RR: Did you know anyone in the San Jose system?
JL: Yeah, I know Tommy Preissing and Timmy Conboy from back home ( Minnesota ) but it hasn’t taken long to get to know the other guys. I also knew Jimmy Fahey a bit from college.
RR: You were an All-Star in the AHL a few years ago. Was it frustrating having some success at the AHL level and not really getting a good, consistent opportunity to break into the Senators lineup?
JL: I was playing right wing there and they had Alfredsson, Hossa and Havlat – three guys who are scoring 30 goals every year and Chris Neil was their tough guy. The only game I was able to get in there was playing left wing so yes, it was tough.
RR: What are your impressions of San Jose so far?
JL: The weather is nice every day, 70 degrees and sunny so that’s nice. It’ll be good come January when we can enjoy life a bit more instead of being in that cold climate.
RR: You made your 2005-06 debut in your home state of Minnesota (Oct. 19) – any extra nerves that night?
JL: No, I’ve played there before with Ottawa . It was fun and exciting but I wish the game would have gone a little different. We always seem to have a tough time in that building.
RR: Tell us about your hometown of Coon Rapids .
JL: It’s a northern suburb of Minneapolis , about 90,000 people. A great place to grow up. There’s been a few good ballpayers that have come out of there, Danny Johnson (Oakland Athletics first baseman) and a few hockey players but it’s a real good, small community.
RR: You scored the game-and title-winning overtime goal in the 1998 NCAA Championships for the University of Michigan . How does it feel to know your name will always be tied to that university’s hockey program?
JL: It’s great, especially since that was the last time they won a national championship. You’d think with all of the prospects and high draft picks that come out of there, they’d win it every other year. A lot of tradition with the players there like Marty Turco, John Madden, Brenden Morrison, Steve Shields, the list goes on and on. It’s nice to be a part of it.
RR: You scored your first goal off of a future Hall-of Famer, Martin Brodeur. What was that like for you?
JL: It was exciting. I think we were up 3-1 when I scored. It was probably the best shot I’ve had to date – beat him high glove, hit the cross bar and went in. It’s something I’ll never forget.
RR: What can San Jose Sharks fans expect from you this year?
JL: Just a guy who works hard every night, goes to the net to try and make things happen, and be smart defensively. Just bring a good work ethic and everything will be fine.