When sizing up the career of someone you played against, sometimes the simplest analysis is the best compliment.
So as Keith Tkachuk was asked about Jamie Langenbrunner going into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame the words came easy.
“He was a pro,” Tkachuk said of Langenbrunner. “The way he carried himself. I played against him quite a few years. He’s competitive. He wasn’t one of those guys that was going to cheat the game. He had a sneaky good stick, too. He found a way to contribute in different areas that might not always show up on the scoresheet.”
Tkachuk knows what a Hall of Famer looks like. He was part of the 2011 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame class after 19 seasons in the NHL that included him becoming the first American to lead the league in goals (52 in 1996-97).
Langenbrunner will now join Tkachuk as a U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer when he is inducted Dec. 6 in Boston along with Dustin Brown, Brian Burke, Katie King Crowley and Brian Murphy. Joe Bertagna will also be recognized for winning the 2023 Lester Patrick Trophy.
A native of Cloquet, Minnesota, Langenbrunner won two Stanley Cups as a forward during 16 full seasons in the NHL, recording 663 points in 1,109 career games with the Dallas Stars, New Jersey Devils and St. Louis Blues. He also played for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team at the 1998 Nagano and 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, winning a silver medal at the latter Games when he was team captain.
Currently, Langenbrunner is the assistant general manager for the Boston Bruins after first joining the organization’s front office in 2015.
Lou Lamoriello — the general manager who brought Langenbrunner to the Devils and a U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer in his own right — echoed Tkachuk’s sentiments.
“Jamie, on a personal level, I loved the way he played,” said Lamoriello, currently president of hockey operations for the New York Islanders. “He competed every night. He was a gamer. Never cheated a shift and deserves this accolade as much as anyone deserves it. Represented USA Hockey on all fronts and it was a privilege to work with him over the years and I really appreciate what he’s doing now too. He’s doing a great job in Boston.”
What truly made Langenbrunner so special was his ability to lead and serve as a captain.
“He was very, very energetic, very personable,” Lamoriello said. “He had a [sense of] humor about him in a different way. His teammates had a lot of respect for him and that always tells you about what type of person he is, what his teammates think of him and what we as an organization thought of him because he was our captain. I don’t know if you can give any better background than your teammates respecting you and organization respecting you. That’s as high as you can get.”
Langenbrunner was certainly a player teams wanted on the ice. He was drafted 35th overall out of Cloquet High School in 1993 by the Dallas Stars and made his NHL debut in 1995. He was a key part of the Stars’ Stanley Cup championship in 1999, then was traded to the Devils in March 2002 and promptly won his second Cup that season while leading the NHL in goals (11) and points (18) during that playoff run. Langenbrunner became the Devils’ captain during the 2007-08 season.
“He was a big reason why teams had success,” Tkachuk said. “He just contributed in so many different ways. He had a lot of respect of his teammates.”
Those traits made Langenbrunner the ideal player to plug into a team with championship aspirations.
“As a GM, he was a major part of the puzzle you try and put together to have success,” Lamoriello said. “What was really sort of indicative of Jamie, whatever role that you asked him to play, he played it to the best of his abilities and that’s a compliment.”
While the two never played on the same NHL team, Tkachuk did play on the 1998 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team with Langenbrunner. The two also got to know each other better when Tkachuk retired from the Blues following the 2009-10 season and Langenbrunner joined St. Louis for his final two seasons from 2011 to 2013.
“He’s a very quiet, reserved guy, a great team guy,” Tkachuk said. “He just brings that winning environment wherever he goes, whether it’s playing or whether it’s his new job.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.