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Bradley Bouzane
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At 36, the aches last a little longer, but Darren Langdon still enjoys the game

After the 12-year National Hockey League career Darren Langdon had, battling through the Telegram Herder Memorial Trophy Series should be a breeze, right? Not quite.

At the age of 36, the rugged forward for the Deer Lake Red Wings admits the game, even at the provincial senior level, has lingering effects.

Darren Langdon

After the 12-year National Hockey League career Darren Langdon had, battling through the Telegram Herder Memorial Trophy Series should be a breeze, right? Not quite.

At the age of 36, the rugged forward for the Deer Lake Red Wings admits the game, even at the provincial senior level, has lingering effects.

"The older you get, the more bumps and bruises you get and all the aches last longer. I always call the older guys I play with wimps and say 'you're only 35, it shouldn't be that bad,' but once you get out there and take a few hits, you definitely feel it.

"You look at (the Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars) lineup and they've got a lot of big fellas that do a lot of hitting, but we do too. We had the first two games and now three more this weekend, but after that, I'll need something cold in me by Sunday, for sure."

The Stars and Red Wings are tied 1-1 in their best-of-seven series for the provincial senior hockey title, with this year marking the third straight time the same teams have represented their respective coasts.

For a guy who supposedly hung up his skates after playing 14 games with the New Jersey Devils last season, Langdon is still playing quite a bit of hockey.

"Yeah, I'm playing too much I think," Langdon said with a laugh Wednesday night. "I'm getting too old for this stuff, but it's a bit of fun and keeps you a little bit in shape. It beats the gym.

"I'm retired and this is all fun for me now. The NHL was like a job I had to do every day, but this is more of a weekend thing. It takes up a lot of my ski-dooing time, but it's only two days a week, so it's not too bad."

Langdon admits the fire in his belly has gotten smaller for hockey, but quickly adds that it's not hard to get worked up with the amount of buzz surrounding the Herder.

"When you have 3,500 people out in Corner Brook like we did last Saturday night, it's a lot of fun," Langdon said, who will likely play in front of full crowds at Mile One Centre this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"Once you get out there, you work hard and do the best you can.

"This is three years in a row for these teams, but every year we're getting good crowds. It's nice to see that and fans enjoy that style of hockey. There might be a few mistakes out there, but there's a lot of talented players in these leagues and that why people watch and have fun with it."

Long layoff didn't help Wings

With full focus on his team getting its second provincial title in three years, Langdon said the two-week layoff between the west coast final and the start of the Herder hurt the Wings in Games 1 and 2, but is anticipating close games in St. John's.

Because many Red Wings players live in the St. John's area, the team wasn't able to schedule a full practice before the first two games last weekend and the rust was evident, especially in a 7-3 loss in Game 1.

Langdon expects the series - which was evened Sunday with a 5-4 overtime win by Deer Lake - to travel back to the west coast to wrap up in Corner Brook at the Pepsi Centre in Game 6 or Game 7. The prospect of one team sweeping the three-game set at Mile One Centre this weekend is an unlikely one, he said.

"This is going to be a good series and probably a long one because both teams are compatible," he said. "I can't see us winning three straight, they've got good coaching and all that, and I can't see them winning three straight, either."

Langdon isn't sure how long he'll remain playing in the senior league, but once his playing time with Deer Lake ends, he'd likely stay on in a coaching role or in some other way with the Red Wings organization.

"I'd definitely help out in some way because everybody around here is into it in the winter, and if you're not into (the Red Wings), there's pretty much nothing else to do around here," he said jokingly.

Off the ice, Langdon is enjoying time with his family.

With schools out on Easter vacation, Langdon said he might get the nod for some awards that have nothing to do with hockey.

"This week I'm pretty well father of the year," Langdon said from his home, where he was spending time with his four children, Kennedy, 7 and five-year-old triplets Brooke, Brett and Drew.

"My wife is working and I've got the four kids because they've got a week off school. They're all coming out to St. John's for the weekend and I'm sure they'll enjoy it."

bbouzane@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Red Wings, National Hockey League, Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars Telegram Herder Memorial Trophy Series New Jersey Devils Pepsi Centre

Geographic location: St. John's, Corner Brook, Deer Lake

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