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Captains America

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Langenbrunner will play in his second Olympics. He and Parise form two-thirds of the "ZZ Pops" line with Travis Zajac.

He already leads the Devils night in, night out, but Jamie Langenbrunner received another high honor on Monday when he was officially named the captain of Team USA’s 2010 Olympic team.

Zach Parise was named one of four alternate captains, joining former Devil Brian Rafalski, Dustin Brown and Ryan Suter. 

“We’ve had some difficult decisions and some long discussions, and some vitriolic profanity-laced arguments through the selection process,” said Team USA general manager Brian Burke. “But the one thing we didn’t have any kind of a fight on was picking our captain.”

Langenbrunnner, 34, is headed to his second Olympic games. Currently the Devils' captain, he represented the U.S. as a 22-year-old at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, then donned the red, white and blue for the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. He has 585 points in 927 NHL games.

“To be picked is a great honor”, Langenbrunner said. “I’m not too worried about the leadership on this team at all. I think they have plenty of great leaders, and we’re all going to know our goal and our focus going forward. I’m looking forward to the challenge of going to Vancouver and winning a gold medal.”

The native of Cloquet, Minn., ranks second on the Devils in scoring with 40 points (13g-27a) and is currently riding a seven-game points streak (5g-6a).

“He’s serving (as captain) on an organization that’s respected throughout the League,” Burke said. “He’s been a model of consistency, of versatility, and he’s a guy that does just about everything well on an ice surface, and lots of things well in the dressing room. There were lots of tough decisions for Team USA going into this Olympic games, but picking our captain wasn’t one of them. It was easy to do.”

Langenbrunner brings experience to a U.S. team that has an average age of 26.5 years old. The 15-year vet won Stanley Cup titles with the Devils in 2003 and Dallas in 1999.

“He’s the ultimate professional,” Team USA head coach Ron Wilson said of Langenbrunner. “His experience in the Olympics and also the World Cup will really help get our team pulled together and headed in the right direction.”

Parise will be making his first Olympic appearance.
Parise, 25, leads the Devils in scoring with 46 points (20g-26a). The fifth-year NHLer is serving in his first season as the team’s alternate captain. He has collected 299 points in 369 NHL games.

“I’m pretty honored and excited to be named one of the alternate captains,” said the Minneapolis native. “I think it’s a great selection with Jamie being the captain. Being in New Jersey and this being my first year with a letter on my jersey there, I’ve learned a lot from him being our captain and sitting next to him in the dressing room.”

Parise won gold with Team USA at the 2004 World Jr. Championship and will be making his first Olympic apperance.

Despite Team USA’s youth-laden roster, Wilson is confident in the talent the Americans will bring to Vancouver. The Olympic tourney gets underway on Feb. 16, when the U.S. faces off against Switzerland.

“We don’t think we have any problem with leadership on our team,” Wilson said. “It’s always difficult to single out names to wear an ‘A’ and we know we have leadership that doesn’t require any letters.”

Injured Devils defenseman Paul Martin was also among those named to Team USA on Jan. 1. Other Devils attending the Olympic tournament are Martin Brodeur and Jacques Lemaire (Canada), Patrik Elias (Czech Republic), and Johnny Oduya and Tommy Albelin (Sweden).

Team USA celebrates two significant Olympic anniversaries this year. It’s the 50th anniversary of the 1960 team, which won the first U.S. Olympic gold in ice hockey, and the 30th anniversary of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team.
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