Jamie Langenbrunner never expected any of the accomplishments and accolades that dot his hockey résumé.
The NHL draft, the Stanley Cup championships, and the Olympic trips were not dreams come true. The kid from Minnesota never dreamed that big.
Sure, he was a standout player from his youth days through his years with the Cloquet High Lumberjacks. But getting a chance to play the game he loved at the highest levels? That was not on his radar.
The latest surprise? A call from the US Hockey Hall of Fame.
Langenbrunner, the Bruins assistant general manager, will be inducted Wednesday at the Westin Copley Place hotel.
He will be joined in the 2023 class by fellow Stanley Cup champion Dustin Brown, longtime NHL and US national team executive Brian Burke, ex-NHL official Brian Murphy, and Boston College women’s coach and Olympic gold medalist Katie King Crowley.
“I think my first reaction was a little bit of shock when I got the news,” Langenbrunner said. “Now, a few months later, being able to soak it all in a little bit, I’m really excited. I’m excited to be able to go celebrate with my family and be able to thank some of the people along the way that have really supported me and helped me achieve that.”
The possibility of a life in hockey first hit Langenbrunner after his junior year of high school. That’s when Lumberjacks coach Tom McFarlane told his crafty forward to be prepared for a busy spring as a lot of teams would be calling for pre-draft interviews.
“And I looked at him and said, ‘The draft?’ He goes, ‘Well, you’re going to get drafted this summer,’ " recalled Langenbrunner. “I had never really thought about it until that moment. I guess I just played hockey to play. I played baseball to play, I played football to play.
“I just played sports and enjoyed it and had some success, especially in hockey. And I think at that moment is when it started to click that that might be an opportunity.”
Sure enough, Langenbrunner was plucked with the 35th overall pick in 1993, by the Dallas Stars, the franchise that up until that year had operated as the Minnesota North Stars, the team he followed as a kid.
After signing, he played in the OHL and IHL before getting a taste of NHL action in 1994-95 and ’95-96, then becoming an NHL regular in the ’96-97 season.
Over 18 seasons with the Stars, Devils, and Blues, Langenbrunner piled up 243 goals and 663 points in 1,109 games. He added 34 goals and 87 points in 146 career playoff games.
It was those playoff runs where Langenbrunner really shined. On the way to a Stanley Cup title in ’99 with the Stars, he put up 10 goals and 17 points in 23 games. When he won the Cup with the Devils in 2003, he led the league in playoff scoring with 11 goals (4 of them game-winners) and 18 points in 23 games.
“I was never the biggest player. I was never the best skater. I considered myself competitive, willing to do what it took,” said Langenbrunner. “I think the most important thing I was able to do in my game is show up in big moments.
“Maybe my consistency at times in the regular season and certain game stretches wasn’t always great. But when the games mattered, I seemed to be a guy that could play in those situations.”
Among the biggest highlights of Langenbrunner’s career was representing the US at numerous international tournaments, including the 1998 Nagano Olympics and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
He served as team captain in Vancouver, where the US lost to Canada in overtime in a memorable gold-medal game.
“I did enjoy that Olympics fully,” said Langenbrunner. “Obviously came out on the wrong side, with a pretty good player [Sidney Crosby] scoring the winning goal. But it was an amazing experience with that group of players. Not many gave us much credit or much of an opportunity and we played well throughout that tournament.”
Langenbrunner, 48, was described by fellow honoree Burke, the GM of that 2010 US team, as the smartest player he ever had.
“We all know Brian’s a little crazy, right?” Langenbrunner said through laughter. “I heard Brian say that, and I thanked him.”
Langenbrunner now serves the Bruins on the player personnel side of things.
“I do a lot of pro and college scouting,” he said. “Some amateur scouting, free agents in Europe and free agents in major junior. I spend a bit of time in Providence working with [GM] Evan [Gold] on the construction of that team and where guys are fits.
“And then obviously come in here and see our group here, talking with [Jim Montgomery] and the group and figuring out what they’re seeing and being a part of that.”
Langenbrunner also gets to spend some time watching his son, Mason, who is a defenseman at Harvard. Mason was drafted by the Bruins in the fifth round in 2020.
“I see him enough,” said Langenbrunner. “I think seeing him all the time would bother him. It’s good he gets his space, but it’s been great.”