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Ranking The St. Louis Blues - No. 11

This is the next in a series of stories ranking the 24 most important players on the 2011-12 St. Louis Blues.

No. 11 Jamie Langenbrunner

This summer at the Big Walt Fantasy Camp, I hung out with Jamie Langenbrunner. And when I say I hung out with him, I mean I drank beer in the same room with him while I tried not to look like I was listening to his conversation with Big Walt himself and Barret Jackman. Langebrunner is possibly the youngest looking 36-year-old I've ever seen. With him expected to start the season on the top line with Andy McDonald and David Backes, he better play like he's younger than 36.

For now, that's really the deciding factor for his ranking at this point. Will his top-line promotion be temporary or is that his permanent landing spot in the lineup? If he gets moved to another line, where? Can he withstand the physical demands of playing with those two guys? He's going to have to skate hard to keep up.

Langenbrunner's reputation took a hit last season. Rumors out of New Jersey had him souring on his role with the Devils and him intentionally playing his way out of the Garden State. This was just one year removed from him captaining the U.S. team to the Gold Medal game in the Olympics. He's always had a reputation as a good teammate. That's probably why Doug Armstrong gave him a chance here in St. Louis when it was announced he was signed the same day as Jason Arnott.

I'll admit, I don't know a terrible lot about Langenbrunner. I do remember not enjoying it when the Blues played him in Dallas. It's clear from his career numbers that he heavily benefitted from the rules changes after the lockout six years ago. In his eight seasons before the lockout, he topped 50 points twice. In the six since, he has hit more than 60 three times and above 50 in another. So is that the Langenbrunner of today or can St. Louis fans expect the nine goals and 23 assists he recorded last season?

Professional hockey players have a lot of pride. They don't like it when they appear human. Remember, his long last name is etched on the Stanley Cup with both the Devils and the Stars. He spoke recently with Norm Sanders, fan of GT (shh, don't tell anybody) with the Belleville-News Democrat.

I see a young, talented team that in my opinion is learning how to win. They know how to play the game, now they're just learning how to do the little things a bit. I've been extremely fortunate to play on a lot of winning hockey teams that play a good team game. That's what you need to bring if you want to win in this league.

So he's saying the right things. He probably can still pass the puck (he had 82 assists from 2008-10). And he's being given the opportunity to really contribute. Maybe he'll play here more than one year.