Last Tuesday, Jamie Langenbrunner gave an interview to the Duluth News Tribune. In the interview Langenbrunner says that he has no plans to retire just yet, after coming off a lost season with the Blues due to a torn labrum. The injury seems to have healed up nicely, and Langenbrunner is now a free agent looking to sign on with a team.
A big problem for Langenbrunner is that most teams have their rosters filled out and any remaining holes would probably be filled with a young prospect, not a veteran player. Its the cheaper option that most teams are taking, due to the decreased salary cap this year. But Langenbrunner is hoping the phone will ring, even if its just a pro tryout when training camp begins.
Later on in the article, he says that his ideal situation would be to play for the Wild. Langenbrunner is a native of Cloquet, Minnesota and would love the opportunity to play for the team closest to home. Problem is, the Wild have a full roster with limited cap space. They have more promising youngsters deserving a spot on the roster, and signing Langenbrunner would just make in-season callups for the Wild very difficult (the team's cap space is $2.4M).
Langenbrunner has been in the NHL for 18 seasons. He was drafted in the summer of 1993 by the recently relocated Dallas Stars (thanks Norm!). He made his NHL debut late in 1995, and finally became a regular with Dallas in the 1996-97 season. Midway through the 2001-02 season, he was traded to the New Jersey Devils and remained there until he was traded back to Dallas midway through the 2010-11 season (in case you were wondering, he played five and a half seasons with Wild F Zach Parise while in New Jersey). Langenbrunner signed on with St. Louis, where he has spent the last two seasons.
During his time in the league, Langenbrunner (243-420-663 in 1109 career games) is a two time Stanley Cup Champion with the 1999 Stars and the 2003 Devils. He lead the Devils in scoring during their Stanley Cup run, which also was tops in the NHL during that postseason. He was also captain of Team USA in the 2010 Winter Olympics, helping the stars and stripes to a silver medal.
There are very few things Langenbrunner has not done in his career. Playing in Minnesota appears to be at the top of his NHL bucket list.
He wants to come home and play for the Wild. He is basically trying to will his way onto the roster. Any other year, sure, why not? He has had a distinguished NHL career, and it would be great to see him play his final season in a Wild sweater. The team would probably be his best chance at one last Cup as well (unless a better team comes calling). But this is not that year. There is no room on the roster and the team has no cap space. The only way he comes to Minnesota, is if the Wild end up trading someone (seems rather unlikely at this point), giving him a spot on the third or fourth line.
Sorry folks, but there won't be another Minnesota player homecoming this season. Wait until next summer and hope for another Minnesotan or former Gopher to return home.