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Langenbrunner hoping surgery won't end his career

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- Jamie Langenbrunner knew something was wrong. The St. Louis Blues veteran found out just how bad it was Saturday.

The news wasn't good, and it's just more adversity for a Blues team that has suddenly found itself searching for answers in the midst of a prolonged losing streak following a red-hot start.

The 37-year-old Langenbrunner will be sidelined indefinitely -- likely for the remainder of the 2012-13 season -- with a torn labrum in his left hip that will require surgery.

The Cloquet, Minnesota native, with 1,109 National Hockey League games under his belt, said he noticed something was not right in the past few weeks, and the pain got progressively worse.

He went to see Blues team doctors and MRI results determined the tear. The question arose whether this would be the last season of Langenbrunner's career, which includes two Stanley Cup rings, but Langenbrunner, who immediately said he doesn't want his career to end with an injury, opted for surgery to try and prolong it.

"That's why I'm forced to. I don't want to end my career like this," Langenbrunner said. "Hopefully I can get this done and have the six months of getting it back in shape and hopefully come back stronger and feel better when the summer comes. Hopefully I'll play again next year.

Jamie Langenbrunner
Jamie Langenbrunner
Right Wing - STL
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 1
SOG: 5 | +/-: 1
"I'm not exactly sure when it occurred. Doctors couldn't tell me, either. It could have been years ago … you never know. It's just one of those things and when it starts to affect you … it's been the last few weeks, it's been a little painful."

Langenbrunner's last game was Tuesday night against Nashville, where he logged 10 minutes, 40 seconds of ice time. He has one assist in four games this season.

"After the last game, it kind of got to the point where it was unbearable," Langenbrunner said. "I went and checked to see what for certain it was and the MRI was pretty conclusive about what's going on, just as they figured. The decision has been made that it makes more sense to do [surgery] now. It's obviously not the choice I really wanted to have to make, but I didn't really have much of an option."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who had coached Langenbrunner previously in Dallas where the two won a Stanley Cup in 1999, noticed a difference immediately in the team's abbreviated training camp.

"That’s too bad," said Hitchcock, whose team began the season 6-1-0 but is in an 0-3-1 rut after Saturday's 6-5 shootout loss against Anaheim. "He’s not sure when it happened, but I saw it when he was skating during the training camp. He just got knocked over easily. Then you’re wondering, 'Is [Langenbrunner's career] over?'

"Our last practice, I was watching him in the competitive side of things and everybody that bumped into him, he just fell over. So that’s when he knew something was wrong. He’s not been even close to where he was last year for us. Now we know why. So we’ll have to see where it goes."

Langenbrunner, whose 18-year career includes stints with the Stars, New Jersey Devils and Blues, signed a one-year contract this past summer and will become an unrestricted free agent in June. He realizes that a five- to six-month rehabilitation process could spell the end of his career. But he's now determined one way or another to help the Blues get back on track -- even from the press box.

"I signed here this past summer because I loved our team and I loved the chance we have going forward," said Langenbrunner, who has 243 goals and 663 career points with 146 postseason appearances. "Missing being in that locker room will probably be the hardest part. [Blues general manager Doug Armstrong] was great about getting the surgery and wanting me around. I guess I'll be some sort of a scout from the press box or something, but it was great that they included me in that. It's not quite the same as being on the ice, but I get to still at least be a part of it.

"Not exactly the way you envision things," Langenbrunner added. "You battle through the lockout, try to get yourself ready to go, and then obviously the body didn’t cooperate. But it’s something hopefully you get taken care of, hopefully you feel that much better and you’re able to try going at it next year."

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