Home > Season Recap > The 2010-2011 Season Review: Langenbrunner Shipped To The Stars

The 2010-2011 Season Review: Langenbrunner Shipped To The Stars

After the trade, Langenbrunner tallied 18 points in 39 games for the Stars as they missed the playoffs. Photo Credit: Christian Peterson/Getty Images

The New Jersey Devils entered January in an unfamiliar position this past season – dead last in the NHL. The team, struggling so mightly during the first half, knew their chances at a playoff shot were slim. So the organization went into seller mode, looking to make a few early deals. The captain would be the first to go.

Jamie Langenbrunner was one of the best candidates to leave New Jersey. His production wasn’t meeting the expectations of a first-line winger, putting up just 14 points in 31 games. He carried a cap hit of $2.8 million, a large amount for the cash-strapped Devils. Devils’ general manager Lou Lamoriello committed to giving younger players more ice time, pushing Langenbrunner’s powerplay and penalty time down.

Last but not least, Langenbrunner and interim head coach Jacques Lemaire had a contentious relationship. It began last season, when Lemaire sat Langenbrunner during a meaningless game against the Carolina Hurricanes on April 3. Langenbrunner wanted to play all 82 games, and Lemaire wanted to rest his captain before the playoffs. That incident seemed to divide the locker room, and the Devils’ performance suffered. Lemaire’s return put the writing on the wall.

The Devils traded Langenbrunner to the Dallas Stars on January 7, receiving a conditional third-round pick in this season’s draft. The terms of the agreement can change depending on whether or not the Stars re-sign Langenbrunner before July 1. The Stars received a proven veteran leader for their playoff push, and the Devils cleared space on the roster.

The trade worked out for New Jersey. They began their second-half run after the trade, pushing themselves into the playoff discussion without a defined captain. Brian Rolston moved into the top-six forwards and produced numbers worthy of his $5.2 million cap hit. Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby saw extended playing time because of the open roster spot. The team finally found consistency in their top two lines, something not seen during the first three months of the season.

Langenbrunner produced for the Stars as well. In 39 games, he put up 18 points and scored a game-winning goal. The team fell short of the playoffs, but Langenbrunner far surpassed the conditional pick sent to the Devils.

By the end of his Devils tenure, Langenbrunner lost the popular support of the fan base. Many called him out for his perceived attitude problems. Others lamented his declining production. Since taking the captaincy from Patrik Elias, he never helped the team reach the second round of the playoffs. Not only that, but his deteriorating relationship with Lemaire submarined the Devils playoff performance last season.

In the end, both parties got what they wished. The Devils earned cap space and found new production throughout the lineup. Langenbrunner went to a contender in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. The trade worked out on both sides, with no one losing.

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