With 17 seasons and over 1100 games on his resume, Jamie Langenbrunner’s had a highly successful NHL career.
As such, he’s prepared to deal with retirement…even if it’s not on his terms.
The 37-year-old inked a one-year, $1.25 million contract with St. Louis this summer, a deal described by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford as one that “could be the swan song” of Langenbrunner’s career.
Langenbrunner agreed, adding that the lockout has gotten him used to life without hockey.
“I think this time also prepares you for it,” he told the Post-Dispatch. “I’ve gotten involved in coaching the kids’ teams and quite frankly, I’ve gotten to enjoy that aspect of it.
“You realize there is going to be an end to this [lockout] at some point. But it makes me feel when the end [of his career] does come, I’ll be prepared for that.”
It’s been referenced that, following the 2004-05 lockout, over 200 players never made it back to the NHL (though that number has since been dissected by the Edmonton Journal.)
This lockout has already seen a number of veterans linked to potential retirement — predominantly, star players like Daniel Alfredsson, Teemu Selanne and Jaromir Jagr.
But there are other veteran role players in a similar boat. Andy Sutton, set to undergo his 12th surgery, has suggested the end might be near. Columbus defenseman Adrian Aucoin, 39, said retirement is “a huge possibility.” Boston tough guy Shawn Thornton said he’s “probably done” if the lockout kills the season. Jaro Spacek recently announced that he’s called it a day.
Langenbrunner’s a unique case because while he’s not a star, he’s not exactly your run-of-the-mill journeyman. A two-time Stanley Cup champ that captained both the New Jersey Devils and U.S. Olympic team, Langenbrunner’s veteran presence and leadership skills are a big reason why Blues GM Doug Armstrong brought him to St. Louis in the first place.
So yeah, the future is murky. But regardless if this is his last year or not, Langenbrunner is certain of one thing — solving the lockout shouldn’t be this difficult.
“It’s frustrating, but unfortunately it’s what this business has turned into the last 15 years,” he said. “Fights over stuff that maybe shouldn’t be that hard to figure out.”