LINKLETTER – It has been over 25 years since Darren Langdon played on Prince Edward Island, but the Deer Lake, N.L., native has many fond memories of his two years in Canada’s smallest province.
“It’s always good to get back to P.E.I.,” said Langdon, who is participating in this week’s Summerside Boys and Girls Club Novus celebrity golf tournament at P.E.I. Ocean View and Resort. “It’s similar to home, everyone is friendly. I still know a few people from Summerside and Charlottetown, so it’s nice to get back and say, ‘hi.’
“Everyone is obviously older now and have families, and it’s nice to see their kids and hang out for sure.”
Langdon played two seasons of junior A hockey on P.E.I. He suited up with the Sherwood-Parkdale Merchant Kings in the final 1990-91 season of the old Island Junior A Hockey League. The following year the Summerside Western Capitals and Charlottetown Abbies joined the Maritime Junior A Hockey League at the time, and Langdon played his final year of junior eligibility with the Caps.
“Junior hockey was big on P.E.I. years ago, and then they went down to two teams, Summerside and Charlottetown,” recalled Langdon, 47. “When I came to Summerside Grant Sonier was coach, took me in and treated me well.
“It was fun – had a few goals, had a few assists, had a few fights!”
Langdon admits that when he graduated from the Capitals, he never envisioned his career unfolding the way it did. His resumé includes a career of 546 National Hockey League regular-season and playoff games.
Langdon’s pro career started during the 1992-93 season with the Dayton Bombers in the old East Coast Hockey League, registering 45 points in 54 games. He moved up to the American Hockey League, appearing in 18 games with the Binghamton Rangers.
Langdon spent the next two seasons in Binghamton, and made his NHL debut with the parent New York Rangers during the 1994-95 season at the fabled Montreal Forum. He would spend five more seasons with the Rangers, two-plus with the Carolina Hurricanes, one with the Vancouver Canucks, and one with the Montreal Canadiens before completing his career with the New Jersey Devils during the 2005-06 season.
“Yes, I played in the NHL, but all the way up I had great times wherever I went, whether that be in the East Coast, AHL,” said Langdon. “The thing I got out of it is you play hard, enjoy the game, have fun, and whatever happens, happens.”
With 1,271 penalty minutes during his 12 NHL seasons, Langdon earned a reputation as one of the game’s toughest fighters during his career, and his willingness to defend teammates quickly earned him respect.
“Obviously, I had a few good fights,” said Langdon in reflecting on his NHL days. “I had a couple of good ones with the late Bob Probert, Tie Domi, Stu Grimson. I’m not saying I won them all, but I stood in there, held my own and have nice memories.
“I got a couple of goals along the way, and obviously playing with Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Mike (Richter), they were awesome players but great guys as well. I got to meet some really good guys.”
Who was the toughest player Langdon ever fought?
“Stu Grimson got me a couple of times because he is so big, and he got my jersey over my head,” answered Langdon. “I didn’t get hit very much in fights because I tried to be a little bit smart, and you just didn’t want to go in throwing a fist because that is when you get hurt.
“(Grimson) got me a couple of times, and I admit that, but they are all big and tough and I was a little bit smaller than them. I held my own, and they are all good guys. After the fight you go out and have a beer and it’s over with.”
Langdon has retired in his hometown of Deer Lake. Along with doing some coaching at the senior, midget AAA and high school levels, Langdon provided an update on what he’s up to today.
“I have triplets who are just turning 16, and I have an 18-year-old,” said Langdon. “I own a bar back home, but my wife takes care of that. I go and sit there and have a couple of beers every now and then.”