Jamie Langenbrunner has carved out a 15-year-career in the National Hockey League (NHL) by being tough, tenacious and gritty. He's not the flashy type to put up 80, 90, or even 100 + points a season. That's not his game; his game is being an unselfish player and veteran leader.
The New Jersey Devils team captain, who turns 35 in July, is not a rah-rah type guy either. The stoic Devils right wing has a powder-dry wit and an easy going demeanor. He's a blue-collar guy, just doing his job every time he laces up the skates. He leads by example, and the younger guys on the team are quick to take notice of his professionalism. Part of the organization's success is that the Devils pride themselves as a team, not as individuals; and Langenbrunner is the consummate team player.
Playing as the veteran presence on the Devils' top line with young linemates Zach Parise, 25, and Travis Zajac, 24, Langenbrunner is nicknamed " The Godfather" by his younger teammates. As the 2009-2010 season proved, he still has some gas left in the tank and will likely remain in the league for years to come. Not that he's the gray-beard on this team. The Devils sport a nice mix of veterans, like Rob Niedermayer (35), Martin Brodeur (38) and Brian Rolston (37). But Langenbrunner can still bring it, as his 61 points (19 goals and 42 assists) during the 2009-2010 campaign proved. He finished fourth on the Devils in scoring.
Unfortunately, a fine season by Langenbrunner and the Devils came to an abrupt halt in the first round of the playoffs. The Devils, the Atlantic Division champ and No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, were unceremoniously dumped 4-games-to-1, by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the NHL Playoffs.
The disappointing conclusion to an excellent season has the fire burning in Langenbrunner. His goal is simple: "I would like to win another Stanley Cup."
So he's set his sights on improving for the 2010-2011 season.
"I love to play the game," said Langenbrunner, a native of Cloquet, Minnesota. "Any time you enjoy something, it makes it easier to do things you need to prepare for a season."
For an unassuming Midwestern guy from Minnesota, Langenbrunner's hockey career has been a dream come true. Since joining the NHL in 1994, he has competed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs 12 times and has hoisted the Stanley Cup trophy for both the Dallas Stars in 1999 and the New Jersey Devils in 2003.
Seemingly born to play ice hockey, Langenbrunner excelled at a young age. Jamie was Minnesota's High School Player of the Year and collected All-State honors at Cloquet High School in 1992-93.
Langenbrunner was a two-time member of the U.S. National Junior Team that competed at the International Ice Hockey World Junior Championship in 1994 and 1995.
He was drafted 35th overall in the 1993 NHL draft by the Dallas Stars. Jamie spent two seasons with the Peterborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey League before making his NHL debut with the Stars in 1994. Langenbrunner did not see significant time with Dallas until the 1996-1997 season. He played a pivotal role during their championship season, when he scored 10 goals and had 7 assists.
After that season, however, Langenbrunner's role with the team and his minutes on the ice dropped considerably. On March 19, 2002, Dallas traded Langenbrunner and Joe Nieuwendyk to the New Jersey Devils for Randy McKay, Jason Arnott, and a draft pick. The change of scenery worked wonders for Langenbrunner, and he finally found a home. During the 2002-2003 season, he compiled 22 goals and 33 assists, a then career-best 55 points in one season. And during the postseason, he was even more spectacular scoring 11 goals and 7 assists, and helping lead his team to the Stanley Cup Championship.
Langenbrunner played in Germany for the ERC Ingolstadt during the 2004-05 NHL lockout, and then returned to the Devils in 2005. He renewed his contract with the Devils in 2006.
His years in New Jersey were the best of his career. He's compiled 32, 55, 26, 53, 60, 41, 69 and 61 points, respectively, in 8 seasons in Jersey. He has a total of 606 points in 965 games in his 15 NHL seasons.
He also takes pride in his reputation as a clutch goal-scorer. Currently, he is fifth among active NHL players in career playoff winning goals, with 12 game winning goals and 4 career playoff overtime goals.
In March 2009, he scored the 200th goal of his NHL career -- the game-winner in the Devils' 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
"It's a darn good accomplishment," said former Devils coach Brent Sutter after Langenbrunner reached the milestone. "It's something that he should be proud of. When you look at Jamie's roles and what he's played over the years, the type of player he is, he's made himself better because he works extremely hard."
Of course, the biggest thrills for the fans are his Stanley Cup trophies. In his hometown of Cloquet, Jamie is a hero. When he won each of his Stanley Cups, he brought the coveted trophy back home to show to the locals. He just wanted to share the special moment with his townsfolk, like another NHL player from Cloquet once did years ago.
"When I was ten or eleven years old, Corey Millen came back to Cloquet," said Langenbrunner, recalling the revered status of a United States Olympian returning to his hometown and receiving a hero's welcome. "I stood in line for a long time to get his autograph. I still have the picture, too. It says: 'To Jamie, Best of luck, Corey Millen.'"
Jamie is also proud to have represented USA Hockey this year. His first appearance in the Winter Olympics was in 1998 in Nagano, Japan. And in 2010, he was selected to play for (and captain) the 2010 Team USA squad.
"It was a great honor," he said of playing for Team USA. "Any time you get a chance to represent your country, especially in the Olympic Games, it is something that is an unbelievable honor."
As a player nearing 35, Langenbrunner understands the importance of proper fitness and nutrition. He suffered a groin injury prior to the 2007 season, which required surgery. Since then, the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder has focused on keeping his body in peak condition. He's proud of his durability and takes it as an affront when he fails to play all 82 games (he came up one game shy in 2010 - coach's decision).
"I wasn't much of a workout person until I got to my thirties," said Langenbrunner, who enjoys most exercises except running. "I think by improving my training, it has helped a lot."
The toughest part of a long NHL season is "the mental grind" according to Langenbrunner. But he also wants to take care of the physical side with proper training and nutrition.
"My eating and fitness habits are improving," Langenbrunner said. "I'm learning as I get older, how beneficial it is."
Langenbrunner admits to having healthy eating habits. Part of his daily regimen is the implementation of Supreme Protein bars into his diet. The second he tried a Supreme Protein bar, he was hooked.
"I just loved the way they tasted," said Langenbrunner, who admits to being a golf junkie during the offseason. "They really helped my performance. With a demanding schedule like mine, it's always been very difficult to get the proper nourishment I need to perform at an optimal level."
His favorite flavor Supreme Protein bar is Caramel Nut Chocolate.
"Now, I carry them around with me all the time so I can get enough quality protein to help keep me strong, recover faster, and stay healthy," Langenbrunner said. "They're a perfect high quality protein meal when you're on the go."
. 1999: Stanley Cup Champion
. 2003: Stanley Cup Champion
. 1993: Drafted by the Dallas Stars
. 1993: Peterborough Petes, OHL
. 1994-02: Dallas Stars
. 2002-04: New Jersey Devils
. 2004-05: ERC Ingolstadt, Deutsche Eishockey-Liga
. 2005-present: New Jersey Devils