February 07, 2014

Jamie Langenbrunner

"He's a role player's superstar.''

That's how New Jersey coach Pat Burns described Jamie Langenbrunner.

''He's got all the skills to be an offensive threat and yet he has the temperament to fill a role as a solid two-way player. Great heart."

A powerful though choppy skater Langenbrunner was an intense forechecker and diligent defensive forward. But he also had a nice touch around the net. He scored a very respectable 243 goals and 663 points in 1109 career games. He had a good shot and was a smart and playmaker. In many ways he was very much an unsung hero.

Langenbrunner started his career in Dallas. The native of Cloquet, Minnesota was drafted by the Stars in 1993 and played with the team from 1995 through 2002. The highlight of his stay in Texas was easy - helping the Stars win the Stanley Cup in 1999. He scored 10 goals in that playoffs - tied for second most on the team.

Dallas would return to the Stanley Cup final in 2000, but they would lose to the New Jersey Devils.

For Langenbrunner, it was very much a case of "what a difference a year makes."

 ''I wasn't happy," recalled Langenbrunner. "Guy Carbonneau retired in June 2000 and (Coach) Ken Hitchcock made me a checker. My last couple of years there, they were kind of experimenting by playing me at center. Maybe a part of me didn't want to accept the demotion. I don't know. But it felt like I was kind of an odd-man out, so coming here was a good opportunity for me. But it was still a shock after all the success we had as a team winning one Stanley Cup and then losing to the Devils the next year."

One team that did appreciate what Langenbrunner could do was the Devils. They traded for Langenbrunner and Joe Nieuwendyk in a blockbuster trade for Randy McKay and Jason Arnott and a 1st round draft pick.

It was a great move for the Devils. They would win another Stanley Cup in 2003. Meanwhile Langenbrunner really rounded out his game as a very solid two player. He excelled within the Devils tight defensive-oriented system while putting up some good offensive numbers along the way.

His teammates sure appreciated what he brought to New Jersey.

"What hasn't he done?" captain Scott Stevens asks. "I mean, he's a guy who just doesn't stop working. He comes to play every night. He's got a lot of energy, he competes. That's what the playoffs are all about. It's about competing, it's not about skill. It's about how hard you work and how much determination you have."

Langenbrunner would stay with the Devils through 2011. He extended his career with a brief return to Dallas and a brief stop in St. Louis.

Langenbrunner was also a notable international player. He competed for USA in two World Juniors as well as the 2004 World Cup. He was an Olympian in 1998 and finally returned to sports grandest stage in 2010 where he served as USA's team captain. Under his guidance USA won the silver medal.

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