On March 19, 2002, the New Jersey Devils sent Jason Arnott, Randy McKay and a first-round draft pick to the Dallas Stars in exchange for a 26-year-old forward by the name of Jamie Langenbrunner. At that time, Ice Age was number one in theaters, and Ain’t It Funny by Jennifer Lopez was at the top of the charts.
Explore everything hockey with THW’s Hockeypedia pages.
Before the trade to New Jersey, Langenbrunner had played eight seasons for the Stars earning 235 points. His point production was on a steady decline in Dallas, but with a change of scenery, he saw an almost immediate impact. In his first full season with the Devils, he scored 22 goals and finished with 55 points in 78 games. He began to emerge as a leader, and a few years later would be rewarded for his work on and off the ice.
Langenbrunner Earns the Captaincy
Wearing the “C” for New Jersey
During the 2007-08 season, Langenbrunner was awarded the captaincy by head coach Brent Sutter. He embodied what it meant to wear the “C” as he never took a night off, and was a leader for his team. More importantly, he helped mold two young Devils players – Zach Parise and Travis Zajac.
You may also like:
- Devils’ Depth Key to 2022-23 Playoff Appearance
- 3 Devils Who Can Join Jack Hughes at the All-Star Game
- Devils’ Mercer & Boqvist Spark Comeback Win vs. Hurricanes
- Devils By the Numbers at the Halfway Point
- Devils’ Hughes Has Reached Superstar Status
It was Sutter who put a line together that consisted of Parise-Zajac-Langenbrunner during the 2009-10 season. Fans nicknamed the trio the ZZPops line – ZZ for Zajac and Zach and Pops for veteran Langenbrunner. To this day the line is remembered as one of the best New Jersey ever had. They were consistently a threat on the ice and a favorite among fans.
Wearing the “C” at the 2010 Olympics
In January of 2010, Langenbrunner was announced as captain of the U.S. Olympic hockey team. His reputation around the league made him the obvious choice for U.S. general manager Brian Burke.
Latest News & Highlights
“We’ve had some difficult decisions, some long discussions and some vitriolic, profanity-laced arguments through the selection process – but the one thing we didn’t have any kind of a fight on was picking our captain,” Brian Burke said about selecting Langenbrunner. “He’s been a model of consistency, of versatility. This is a guy who does just about everything well on the ice surface and a lot of things well in the dressing room.”
Langenbrunner led his team to the silver medal in Vancouver. It is the only Olympic medal he won during his career, but the memory of forcing overtime against Team Canada in Vancouver will be forever etched in his mind. During his time with the Devils, he won at the highest level including a Stanley Cup victory as part of the Devils’ 2003 team.
A Reunion with the Dallas Stars
Langenbrunner returned to the Dallas Stars via a trade from the Devils for a conditional third-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. He played 39 games with his former club earning five goals and finishing with 18 points.
“I know the character of Jamie and I know he’ll be a terrific fit for us in the locker room,” Stars’ general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said at the time of the trade. “He’s familiar with our organization, he’s familiar with a couple of our players, and I think it helps for where we are currently to have a guy who’s the type of character like Jamie, the type of leader and helping us push forward to the playoffs.” That season the Stars finished 9th in the Western Conference and failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Langenbrunner’s Brief Stint with the Blues
At the conclusion of the 2010-11 season, Langenbrunner opted to sign a one-year deal with the St. Louis Blues. At this point, the 36-year-old took on the responsibility of being a checking line forward and utilized as a depth piece for the team. He finished his first season in St. Louis with 24 points in 70 games.
The Blues opted to bring him back for one additional year. The Minnesota native brought a wealth of experience to the team, and his leadership qualities became vital to the club.
“We are excited that Jamie has agreed to stay in St. Louis,” said general manager Doug Armstrong at the time. “His professionalism and leadership both on and off the ice are invaluable assets for our club.”
Sadly he only played four games in the 2012-13 season. St. Louis announced Langenbrunner had a torn labrum in his left hip. For younger players, this is not ideal, but after a five- to six-month rehabilitation process, they can return to the ice. At this juncture, Langenbrunner is 37 years old, and the thought of retirement were getting closer to becoming a reality.
Retirement & Shipping up to Boston
The 6-foot-1 forward played his last NHL game against the Nashville Predators on Feb. 5, 2013. It was not until Jan. 15, 2014, the official announcement was made that he was retiring from the NHL. He played for the Stars, Devils and Blues over the span of 16 seasons. Appearing in 1,109 career games, he walked away from the game with two Stanley Cups, and a silver medal from the 2010 Winter Olympics.
“It was a dream come true to have the opportunity to play in the NHL for 16 seasons”, said Langenbrunner. “The friendships I developed with my teammates, and also the people in the communities where I played, will always be cherished by my family and I. I would like to thank Bob Gainey, Lou Lamoriello and Doug Armstrong for giving me the opportunity to play against the top players in hockey, in the best league in the world. I’d also like to thank my coaches and teammates for helping a kid from Minnesota enjoy a long, fulfilling hockey career. Finally I’d like to thank my truly amazing family for all their sacrifices they made so I could live my dream.”
On Sept. 12, 2015, the Boston Bruins hired Langenbrunner to work on the development of players and prospects alongside former teammate Jay Pandolfo. Currently, he holds the title of Director of Player Development & Player Personnel Advisor. It became a family affair in Boston after the Bruins selected Langenbrunner’s son Mason with their third pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Langenbrunner will always be remembered for his time in New Jersey and has been cemented in Devils history as the eighth captain. He was a leader for Parise and Zajac, and a member of the beloved ZZPops line. For nine seasons, he wore the Devils’ crest with pride, and provided fans with memorable moments including being their Stanley Cup Playoffs scoring champion in the spring of 2003. He joins Scott Stevens and Kirk Muller as one of the best captains in Devils’ history.
Kristy has been contributing to The Hockey Writers since March of 2021. She is thrilled to be putting her journalism degree to use and is a credentialed correspondent covering the New Jersey Devils. Kristy is also a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. You can follow her journey on Twitter @InStilettos_NHL and Instagram SkatingInStilettos.