|Langenbrunner Proudly Carries The Tradition of Cloquet Hockey, Inspiring Future Generations|
|October 31, 2010 by Sean Hartnett, JL15.com contributor|
|Jamie Langenbrunner didn't have to look far for role models growing up in the hockey hotbed of Cloquet, Minnesota. The town of just 11,000 has a well-known history of producing players who go on to play Division I college hockey for distinguished programs like the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.
Jerry Edmond was the first Cloquet product to play for the Golden Gophers in the 1960's and many soon followed in his footsteps making the jump to Division I schools. Then head coach Bill Kennedy was the architect in taking the school to the next level by getting local residents to volunteer in construction of the famed Pine Valley Ice Arena. The project was completely self-funded by residents and construction was complete in 1970.
This sign proudly hangs in the entrance of the "Barn"The arena is known to locals as "The Barn" for its design and the smell of old wood upon entrance. Kennedy was responsible for taking the development of Cloquet's youngsters further once they donned the purple & gold of the Lumberjacks. Under Kennedy's guidance, the school continued to cement its place as one of the proudest hockey institutions in Minnesota.
Corey Millen's name became synonymous with Cloquet Hockey by leading the Lumberjacks to their first state tournament in 1982. It was a tremendous year for Millen who represented his country at the World Juniors and was selected 57th overall by the New York Rangers in 1982 NHL Draft. Corey elected to play for the University of Minnesota where he scored a school record 48 goals in one season and still holds the all-time NCAA tournament career goals record at 14.
Millen began his NHL career with the New York Rangers in 1990 before playing alongside Wayne Gretzky for the Los Angeles Kings. His NHL career spanned eight seasons as he also represented the New Jersey Devils, Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames. Coincidentally, Millen was traded to Flames in the deal that brought Joe Nieuwendyk to the Stars who became Langenbrunner's teammate both in Dallas and later in New Jersey.
Corey Millen, Derek Plante and Jamie Langenbrunner posing with 3 youngsters at a signing in Cloquet, MNGrowing up in Cloquet, Jamie idolized Millen who had made it as a success in the NHL and remembers meeting him as a ten-year old, "I stood in line for a long time to get his autograph. I still have the picture, too." As Langenbrunner was making a name for himself with the Lumberjacks, he followed another Cloquet native in Derek Plante who went on to star at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, finishing second behind Paul Kariya for the Hobey Baker Award in 1993. Plante was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres 161st overall in 1989 and would go on to play eight seasons between the Sabres, Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers.
Tom McFarlane who coached Jamie for the Lumberjacks was kind enough to share his memories of Langenbrunner's high school years, "Jamie was part of a good group of freshman that year. I first watched him play at pee-wee level and even at the age he was very competitive."
Langenbrunner quickly impressed McFarlane who spoke of how difficult it was to break into Cloquet's varsity team, "Our practices were intense and everyone was fighting it out for places. As a freshman Jamie was able to center our 3rd line and we usually preferred upper-classmen to handle such a duty."
Inside the "Barn", these youngsters know they are practicing in the same rink as their hero Langenbrunner did at their ageJamie continued to learn and develop under McFarlane and demonstrated exceptional ability at a young age, "He was already being identified by NHL scouts and was named to the US Select as a sophomore. By the time he was a junior, Jamie was the best in the state. The power play we ran those years with Jamie was electric! I remember watching him score 5 points in the section final, hands down the top player in Minnesota," he remembered.
Langenbrunner was drafted out of high school 35th overall by the Dallas Stars in the 1993 Draft and joined fellow Cloquet alumni Millen and Plante in the 1994-95 NHL season. McFarlane gave his verdict on how Jamie now a 15-year veteran has maintained a high-level of play over his NHL career, "He's full of intangible qualities. You'll watch him battle for every puck. He has a knack for getting those 'bloody nose goals' and willingly pays a price physically for his team. Jamie's an expert at killing penalties. He's adapted brilliantly to the new NHL and can score goals in so many ways. Langs is tremendous at either scoring from the point or in front of the net picking up scraps."
When asked what it meant to see a player he coached being given the honor of captaining United States in the 2010 Olympics McFarlane said, "He's the prototype Cloquet hockey player and a great example of what the local kids can achieve. Everyone around town was so proud to see one of our guys leading out the USA. I remember watching him start out on the 3rd line at the start of the tournament and by the time we faced Canada in the final he was on the top line. There's a reason why he wears the 'C' on his jersey whether for the Devils or his country."
Even though Jamie's a high-profile player in the NHL, you get the feeling that success has never changed him. To his hometown locals he's still the same polite kid they remember playing for the Lumberjacks. "He's brought a sense of pride to the community but Langs is still a regular guy around here. During the summer he'll join up with Dave Esse who is currently Cloquet's head coach and helps out the summer camps. Jamie will bring his son along and join in with everyone else. He's always involved with the local charities and goes well beyond what's expected," McFarlane explained.
When Langenbrunner and Plante were teammates in Dallas, they brought the Stanley Cup home after their 1999 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. The moment will be remembered forever in their hometown's history. It was a special two days for Cloquet residents as the town's native sons paraded the Stanley Cup. Whether it was the police station, fire house or local schools, Jamie and Derek made sure everyone got there chance to meet Lord Stanley.
The first stop with the Cup was a special one for Jamie. "Donny Lamirande who was Jamie's pee-wee coach wasn't doing well and was in the hospital. Jamie showed up with the Cup to repay him for everything he did for him as a youngster and helped lift his spirits as he was going through a rough time," McFarlane told.
This banner picturing Plante and Langenbrunner with the Stanley Cup hangs in the Cloquet Recreation CenterPlante and Langenbrunner brought the Stanley Cup to the Pine Valley Ice Arena where they played back as high schoolers years ago. The new building for the Lumberjacks, the Cloquet Recreation Center had been built in 1997 adjacent to the "Old Barn." The Stars' teammates carried the Cup from the old building to the new one to signify the connection between the past and future of Cloquet hockey.
The Stanley Cup made a second appearance in Cloquet when Jamie again was a champion with the New Jersey Devils in 2003. Again, Langenbrunner had the chance to greet residents with the famous trophy. He brought the Cup to his neighbor's houses, car dealerships and the pre-school where he mother works.
With the Cloquet Recreation Center again the venue, Jamie showed up with Lord Stanley to meet the high school team and pointed to the photo of him and Plante holding up the trophy wearing their Lumberjacks uniforms. "Once you've set your goal, you must, never, ever give up," were the inspiring words he gave to the student-athletes.
The crowd of people that showed up was in excess of 5,000 but Langenbrunner was glad to go extend the set 3-hour signing session to four hours to sign autographs for everyone who made it out that day. "We expected around 600 people to show up but there were 5,000 plus from wall to wall. It was neat having him in the locker room and meeting all the kids," McFarlane reflected.
Jamie is just one of many great hockey players to come out of Cloquet and the hockey program continues to produce players who go on to higher levels in the game. As coach McFarlane told me, "Coach Esse and his staff do a wonderful job of promoting the past. The players know the history behind the purple & gold sweater." Just as Langenbrunner was inspired by Millen and Plante, one of the present day Lumberjacks may go on to future greatness in the National Hockey League.
|We have a variety of articles that cover Jamie's career from high school to today.||The only place to get exclusive JL15 apparel.||The gallery features an extensive catalog of images of Jamie throughout his career.|
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