Hockey stars come homeMonday morning was the first time ever that all three of Cloquet’s hockey stars – Corey Millen, Derek Plante and Jamie Langenbrunner – signed autographs together.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Monday morning was the first time ever that all three of Cloquet’s hockey stars – Corey Millen, Derek Plante and Jamie Langenbrunner – signed autographs together. Current New Jersey Devils captain and 2010 Olympic silver medalist Langenbrunner last appeared with Derek Plante in 1999 with the Stanley Cup (both were on the Dallas Stars team that won the cup in the 1998-99 season). And Langenbrunner, who graduated from Cloquet High School in 1994, remembers going to events featuring Plante (Class of ’89) and Millen (Class of ’82) before he joined them in the ranks of the NHL.
“It’s not every day you have stars from a small town like Cloquet,” said Theresa Parenteau, who helped organize the autograph session and a fund-raising raffle for the Cloquet Amateur Hockey Association. “But these guys are all about the kids, and that is the greatest thing. That’s why we love ’em so much.”
As Parenteau made sure the line of mostly young autograph seekers progressed along the side of the Cloquet Area Recreation Center, the three hockey legends had a good time kidding each other and talking to any children who were brave enough to actually ask questions. Many of the younger kids were dumbstruck, wordlessly sliding their autograph cards, jerseys, caps, full-size and mini hockey sticks across the table to be signed.
Not so with dad Jeff Wefelmeyer, who took a couple hours off work to bring his kids, Morgan, 10, and Paul, 8. Jeff was there for Millen.
“I haven’t seen Corey in a number of years, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to get in touch,” said Wefelmeyer, who grew up playing hockey with the future NHL star, who played for both the L.A. Kings and the Dallas Stars, as well as two U.S. Olympic teams, in 1984 and 1988. Millen now lives in Alaska.
Although Wefelmeyer didn’t play high school hockey, he was quick to point out that Millen was on the first Cloquet team to go
“While the rest of the kids in junior high would be out playing, Corey would be shooting hockey pucks,” he said. “He really loved it. He was a good baseball player, too.”
The pair caught up while Millen and the others signed Morgan’s cast; Millen pointed out his own children (Jessica and Luke, ages 13 and 11) sitting near him.
“This [event] is for Cloquet Youth Hockey, where we all grew up,” Millen said as the autograph session drew to a close. “This is special for us. These are my friends’ kids, a lot of them. It’s so fun to see them and their kids.
“Obviously, we all have very fond memories of growing up in Cloquet.”
About 50 people behind the Wefelmeyers, three kids in identical USA Hockey/Langenbrunner shirts waited to meet the stars. Grant and Drake Nordin, ages 7 and 10, are from Cloquet; their cousin Jesse Hicks, 14, hails from Texas. All three play hockey.
It turned out Langenbrunner was Grant Nordin’s baseball coach when Grant was 5.
Langenbrunner said his favorite part of events like the one Monday is simply interacting with the kids.
“I was a kid once. I got these guys’ autographs,” he said, gesturing at Plante and Millen. “I enjoy the full circle of that.”