|Langenbrunner has proved over the past few seasons that "an old dog can indeed learn new tricks" by attaining career highs late in his career. During the 2008-09 season, he reached the 40 assist mark for the first time and found the back of the net 29 times while totaling 69 points, both career bests. In 2009-10, Jamie set a new career high with 42 assists and earned his first career hat-trick.
As New Jersey's captain he took pride in passing along his wisdom to the current crop of Devils' up-and-comers who gave thanks to their departing leader before his January 7, 2011 trade to the Dallas Stars. Here's what some of the younger Devils had to say about Langenbrunner's influence on their careers:
Close off-ice friend and longtime teammate David Clarkson described Jamie's responsible attitude as captain, "What comes to mind is the type of leader he is. I'm close to him off the ice and it's the personal things Jamie does. He's always a teammate who's there for you. If he feels there's an issue he makes sure he takes care of it. He's always there for the guys. I play the same position as Jamie so for all the years I've been here you watch how hard he works on the penalty kill and on the ice. To be honest, I've looked up to him. Everybody wants to be a leader, the guy that everyone looks to. He's the best captain I've played with in my career. When we're not doing well you'll see him fight when the team is down. He plays with his heart on his sleeve."
Rod Pelley spoke of the tone that Langenbrunner set for the Devils over the years, "The one thing that sticks out is the way Jamie competes night in, night out. Especially for a young guy coming into the organization, it was great having someone like Jamie showing the way to come to work everyday and leading by example, not necessarily having to 'talk, talk, talk' – it's more about his example on the ice."
Travis Zajac described Jamie as the perfect role model, "In terms of leadership what you get from Jamie, he's not an overly vocal guy but when he talks everyone listens. His work ethic on the ice and his approach to the game is something you can follow. As a pro, you appreciate his approach to the game. He's a great teammate."
Mattias Tedenby is just one of many young Devils who looked to soak up everything he could from Langenbrunner, "Jamie's a great captain who shows up every day for the team. Its good have a player like him to learn from. He's smart, reads the game very well and helped me get better in shooting more quickly."
Another Devils' youngster is Matt Corrente who hailed Jamie's approach, "The whole way through he's been a true captain. He keeps the morale up in the room. Jamie wants everyone to work and give there best. He leads by example on and off the ice and is a great role model – the perfect fit for a captain. When puts his gear on, it's his job and he's all business."
Speculation has already begun on who will fill the leadership void left in Langenbrunner's absence. Along with veteran former captain Patrik Elias, both Zach Parise and Ilya Kovlachuk currently serve as Devils' assistant captains and have been mentioned as potential candidates.
Shortly after his trade to the Stars, Langenbrunner suggested that Parise should be given the future captaincy of the Devils. A humbled Parise spoke to Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger, "That means a lot coming from him. He was always a great captain for us. He played hard every game. He was great for the young guys. He was a role model."
"It's definitely sad. I guess it's one of those things that, until it happens, you don't really believe it will. It's tough for me personally. Jamie's been really good to me since I got here. I don't know if it's the Minnesota connection. He was great to me and my family. I sat next to him in the dressing room and learned a lot," Parise continued.
Ilya Kovalchuk captained the Atlanta Thrashers before moving to New Jersey. While he and Langenbrunner were teammates with the Devils, Ilya looked towards Jamie's example as one to follow. "He's a great leader and captain. He's won a lot and it's always nice to play with those guys. Jamie leads by example and does a lot of good things on and off the ice. Him, Marty Brodeur and Colin White are guys who are great leaders and know how to win," Kovlachuk mentioned.
Brian Gionta who now captains the Montreal Canadiens had the advantage of having plenty of respected leaders around when came up with New Jersey in 2002. Scott Stevens, Ken Danyeko, Joe Nieuwendyk and Langenbrunner made up a strong presence within the Devils' locker room when he was a rookie.
Gionta explained the effect it had on his career, "When Nieuwendyk and Jamie came to New Jersey in my first year, they took me under their wing. Even before Jamie was named captain he was a great leader who extended everything to everybody. He tries to make everyone on the team feel at home and comfortable. The biggest thing is that he's there for all his teammates."
Modano spoke of the key to Langenbrunner's sustained success, "He had a quiet demeanor. A lot of good players were like that starting out and turned into great captains. Jamie always came to practice wanting to improve and grew into the role he performed as captain of the Devils. From an early age, he's done the right things and it's paid off for him."
John Madden now a member of the Minnesota Wild played seven seasons alongside Jamie with the Devils detailed reasons for Langenbrunner's longevity, "Anybody who plays 1000 games is a tribute to his work ethic, preparation, off-season training and mental state of mind. He's always been a strong-minded guy who believed in himself and always loved to help a teammate out."
Another former Devils' teammate Turner Stevenson reflected upon Jamie's steady career, "It's always impressive when a player reaches the 1000 game mark. I understand how hard it is to play at that high of a level and Jamie's been doing it now for sixteen seasons. He's loved by two organizations. He was a big part of those Dallas teams and a great captain for the Devils. Over the years, he's adapted his game and has always been a great two-way player. Jamie has put together a career that he can be very proud of. It was an honor to play alongside him."