We continue celebrating Dallas Stars history this summer as we move closer and closer to their 20th year in DFW with a look at Jamie Langenbrunner.
Taken 35th overall in the second round of the 1993 entry draft by Dallas straight out of his high school in Minnesota, Langenbrunner needed just two years to make his debut with the Stars in 1995. By the 1996-1997 season Jamie was a regular contributor, putting up 38 point in his first full season. He'd tally 235 points in six years here with two Finals appearances and a Cup before the trade that saw him depart with Joe Nieuwendyk for New Jersey.
Why He's On The List:
With just the six seasons in Dallas before the trade it's easy to wonder if the glow of 1999 illuminates Langenbrunner more brightly in our memories than the numbers say, but he is 10th all time in Dallas Stars scoring history with 253 points and 8th in goals (95). Still, it is his heroic playoff performances in 1999 and 2000 that stick out - mainly 10 goals and 7 assists in 23 games en route to his first career Stanley Cup. That's a standout performance often forgotten after consideration of Nieuwendyk's, Belfour's and Modano's that same summer.
More after the jump...
Nieuwendyk and Langenbrunner are the second line pair most remember behind the Modano/Lehtinen/Hull line from the real glory days of 1999 and 2000, and there they are in sterling perfection putting the Stars up big in game 7 against the Avalanche in a VERY loud Reunion Arena.
That's the Langenbrunner Stars fans remember. The one who did the little things. The one that score big goals.
He was just 23, or 24, or 25 as the case may have been. The way this Stars fan remembered Jamie Langenbunner from the glory days is that overwhelming feeling while watching him succeed of "This is our guy! And he's so young! And he's so good. He's going to be on this team for a very long time! I can't believe how lucky we are to have this piece here long term."
He wasn't, of course.
Langenbrunner's real legacy here will always be tied in part to the trade that sent him away. Doug Armstrong had been General Manager of the club for less than two months and the franchise was heading for it's first playoff-less year in a very long time. A team less than two seasons removed from back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals appearances seemingly needed a shakeup, and some offense.
Pavel Bure's name was thrown around the rumor mill. Jaromir Jagr, even. There were those who thought Ed Belfour might get dealt as well. Instead Jason Arnott and Randy McKay were brought in in exchange for both Nieuwendyk and Langenbrunner. The move made the Stars "bigger" and gave them a versatile player in Arnott, who could play the pivot or the right wing, but like losing Steve Ott, or infinitely more so, the loss was truly gut wrenching for the fan base.
When the Stars went 46-17-15-4 the next season it seemed silly to question the decision at the time but a series of playoff failures both pre and post-lockout left a lot of "what ifs" on the minds of Stars fans along the way while Langenbrunner was winning a Cup with the New Jersey and competing deep into the playoffs every year - eventually taking the captaincy there from Patrik Elias.
Is there any doubt that had he not left here, he would have worn the 'C' in Dallas some time down the line? A little. Brenden Morrow may have something to say about that, but it's an interesting question looking back. Would Langenbrunner's supposed growth have stymied what kind of leader Morrow became? Which one would have won out? Wouldn't Modano have received the captaincy either way, as Jamie was perhaps too young still when Hatcher departed?
Interesting questions, though meaningless. Still, there's little doubt that his departure shaped a great many things in the years surrounding either side of the lockout. We remember him in this countdown for his heroics in this franchise's greatest achievements and most glorious years. He was considered small, but he played a big game. His lines were tenacious and hard working. He was everything you wanted in a committed hockey player.
Enjoy Dave Reid, Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie as they provide the offense and more in Game 3 in Buffalo...