After his most productive season in the NHL, veteran right winger Jamie Langenbrunner has a chance to make his second U.S. Olympic team.
The Cloquet native and captain of the New Jersey Devils was among 34 candidates invited Tuesday by USA Hockey to attend an orientation camp Aug. 17-19 at Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge, Ill. The camp is the first step in the selection process for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Langenbrunner, 33, a member of the 1998 U.S. Olympic team, was New Jersey’s third-leading scorer in 2008-09 with 29 goals and 40 assists for 69 points in 81 games. His previous single-season high was 60 points in 2006-07 with the Devils. Part of his success, he said, was being on a line with former North Dakota forwards Zach Parise (also an Olympic candidate) and Travis Zajac.
“They’ve made the game fun again,” Langenbrunner told the New Jersey Star-Ledger. “I never used to go out early and shoot pucks. Zach kind of dragged me into that. All that is their doing. They’ve been very good for me, especially this year.”
Injuries cut Langenbrunner’s playing time in 2007-08, when he managed 41 points in 64 games in his first season as captain. He was a plus-25 in 2008-09 and was the NHL player of the month for January, which included three straight two-goal games to end the month.
In 13 NHL seasons, he has 209 goals and 336 assists for 545 points in 884 games. Langenbrunner’s mom, Patrice, of Cloquet told the Star-Ledger she saw something in her son, just in watching televised New Jersey games.
“I told him he looks like he did as a peewee player when he’d come off the ice and be so excited,” she said. “It’s just so much fun after all these years to see him enjoying himself.
“I was watching one game where he and Zach came off the ice after not scoring and they were talking and smiling. I remember he used to do that as a kid. He’d come off the ice saying, ‘How did we not score?’ ’’
Langenbrunner reached a milestone in March with his 200th career goal.
“It’s a darn good accomplishment,” New Jersey coach Brent Sutter, now with the Calgary Flames, told the Star-Ledger. “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. Character guy.”
Other Minnesotans invited to the Olympic orientation camp are defensemen Tom Gilbert, Erik Johnson and Paul Martin (a Langenbrunner teammate); and forwards David Backes, Dustin Byfuglien, Kyle Okposo and T.J. Oshie. All but Byfuglien played in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
Also from the WCHA ranks are defensemen Brian Rafalski and Ryan Suter, and forwards Phil Kessel, Ryan Malone, Joe Pavelski and Paul Stastny. Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson is the team’s head coach.