Langenbrunner to captain U.S. hockey team
Jamie Langenbrunner of the New Jersey Devils was officially named captain of the United States Olympic men's hockey team on Monday.
Langenbrunner, 34, has represented the U.S. at the 1998 Olympics and 2004 World Cup, as well as twice in the world junior championships in the early 1990s.
USA Hockey general manager Brian Burke said the choice was a no-brainer.
"He's been a model of consistency, versatility, and this is a guy who does just about everything well on an ice surface and lots of things well in the dressing room," Burke said on a media conference call.
Langenbrunner has 13 goals and 27 assists in 45 games for the Devils this season. The Cloquet, Minn., native has been New Jersey's captain since late 2007.
The alternate captains are Langenbrunner's teammate Zach Parise, Ryan Suter of the Nashville Predators, Brian Rafalski of the Detroit Red Wings and Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings. Teams can have two alternate captains per game, with USA Hockey planning to rotate the duties.
Rafalski is playing in his third Olympic tournament, with Chris Drury of the New York Rangers the only other player beside Langenbrunner with previous experience at the Games.
Langenbrunner said the makeover of the squad since the Torino Games in 2006 isn't a concern.
"I'm not too worried about leadership on this team at all," he said. "I think we have plenty of leaders on this team and I think we're all going to know our goal and our focus going forward, and we're looking forward to the challenges of Vancouver and winning a gold medal."
The U.S. won the silver medal in the 2002 Olympics, the only medal in three men's hockey tournaments since NHL players have participated in earnest.
The Americans finished a disappointing eighth at Torino, winning just one of five games.
The U.S. begins Group A play on Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. ET against Switzerland. The team will play Norway and Canada later in the preliminary round.
The coach is Ron Wilson from the Toronto Maple Leafs, assisted by NHL head coaches John Tortorella and Scott Gordon.
USA Hockey is riding a wave of optimism after last week's win at the world junior championships in Saskatoon, as well as consecutive world championships for the senior women's team.
The Americans won Olympic gold in hockey in 1960 and 1980 in addition to six silver and one bronze.