|Langenbrunner Cemented His Status as a Big-Game Hero While Helping Lead The Devils to the 2003 Stanley Cup|
|February 8, 2011 by Sean Hartnett, JL15.com contributor|
|In March of 2002, Stars' general manager Doug Armstrong was looking to shake things up as Dallas struggled to match the achievements of past seasons. He sent experienced 1999 Conn Smythe winner Joe Nieuwendyk along with Langenbrunner and a first-round pick to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for powerful center Jason Arnott and enforcer Randy McKay.
At the time, both sides felt they had stuck a deal to improve their respective rosters. Devils' general manager Lou Lamoriello made the following comments after completing the trade, "First of all, it's quality for quality. Let's not look at it any other way. Both teams are in similar situations - coming off long, successful runs, but they needed to make a change. It's not change for change's sake, though."
History went on to tell a different story as the Stars missed out on the 2002 playoffs and struggled to an unfamiliar 10th place finish in the Western Conference. Former Dallas Morning News sportswriter Richard Durrett in a March 2009 column listed the deal "as the worst in team history and haunts Stars' fans to this day."
Dallas' loss became the Devils' gain as New Jersey received another veteran of countless playoff battles in Nieuwendyk and in Langenbrunner, a player entering his prime ready to take his talent to the next level. Before Jamie had even taken part in his first game for his new club, Lamoriello had a good idea of what Jamie had to offer, "He brings a fiery desire night in and night out."
Devils' fans didn't see the benefits of the trade immediately as New Jersey was knocked out in the opening round of the 2001-02 playoffs by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Carolina Hurricanes. Like in most any case, both Langenbrunner and Nieuwendyk needed time to settle into their new surroundings but it didn't take long for the duo to become key members for the Devils in their first full season.
Turner Stevenson, a member of the 2003 Stanley Cup winning team and a four-year New Jersey Devil generously discussed his memories of the 2002-03 season. "Jamie was one of the guys who played well for us from the beginning. It was a great trade as it was an easy transition for him and Joe Nieuwendyk," Stevenson recalled.
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