Fromthe Catbird Seat...Cloquet native took Zen approach to lockoutWhile a junior at Cloquet High School, Jamie Langenbrunner never thought that one day he would help determine the future of the National Hockey League.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
While a junior at Cloquet High School, Jamie Langenbrunner never thought that one day he would help determine the future of the National Hockey League.
Yet now, the 37-year old veteran has just finished his duties as a member of the National Hockey League Players’ Association negotiating committee – and is getting ready to return to work as a member of the St. Louis Blues.
“That’s a little surreal when you put it like that,” Langenbrunner said, laughing as we talked on Wednesday.
He is one of 16 Blues players in town for practices, with the NHL season expected to start on Jan. 19.
“I guess I never would have thought of it like that,” he added, “but I’m just glad I’m not the one making the final decisions.”
While waiting for the start of the season, though, Langenbrunner focused his attention along different lines.
“I took part in the conference calls that were going on, but I didn’t have a real active role on the bargaining team,” Langenbrunner said. “There were 24 guys in the unit, and some had a bigger role. The guys who lived closer to New York and Toronto did that. So I just tried to enjoy these months with my family.”
And he did.
Langenbrunner took an active role in coaching his two sons – one a Pee Wee hockey player and the other a Squirt – in the St. Louis area.
It was a great experience.
“Youth hockey in St. Louis involves a lot of travel,” Langenbrunner explained. “We took some trips to Chicago and some trips to Detroit. Being around their teams was fun, getting to know their friends and their lives was great too.”
Langenbrunner’s daughter is a freshman at Shattuck-St. Mary’s Academy in the Twin Cities and plays soccer, while her father plays on a one-year contract with the Blues.
It’s that job that will now demand the majority of his attention. Langenbrunner, who broke into the NHL with Dallas in 1994, will start his 18th season in the league next week after playing 70 games last year.
He scored six goals and added 18 assists in 2011-12 to bring his career totals to 243 goals and 419 assists for 662 points in 1,105 games.
As a senior player in the league now, Langenbrunner is simply happy to be back on the ice.
“I’m excited to get back playing,” he said. “That is what we want to be doing. I’m disappointed that it took that long to get [the lockout] figured out.”
Yet, it might surprise you to learn that even if the sides hadn’t settled and Langenbrunner had lost his career, it wouldn’t have been a total loss to him.
“I didn’t really get too concerned about [losing the season],” Langenbrunner said. “You miss playing, but I threw myself into [coaching] and didn’t really think too much of it. I was pretty confident that something would be done at some point. I was quite happy with being able to enjoy a different part of life for a few months.”
“If that was it (his career ending), that was it,” he added. “It didn’t bother me that much.”
Of course, Langenbrunner’s career is still going strong, which means it’s time to get back to work – and fun – on the ice.
“I try to always have fun,” he said. “When it’s not fun playing, it’s time to call it quits. For us, being one of the upper teams and having a shot at winning, I’m trying to figure out a way to win another Cup.”