Rodney Cory Langway (born May 3, 1957) is an American former professional ice hockey defenseman who played for the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals in the National Hockey League (NHL) and Birmingham Bulls of the World Hockey Association (WHA). Langway also spent time with teams in the American Hockey League (AHL) and East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) as a player-coach after his NHL career ended. A two-time winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the top defenseman in the NHL, Langway was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.
|Hockey Hall of Fame, 2002|
Langway in 2011
May 3, 1957|
|Height||6 ft 3 in (191 cm)|
|Weight||218 lb (99 kg; 15 st 8 lb)|
|National team||United States|
36th overall, 1977|
6th overall, 1977|
Early life and amateur careerEdit
Langway was born while his father, an American serviceman, was stationed in Taiwan, and is the only NHL player to have been born there. He grew up in Randolph, Massachusetts, and did not begin playing hockey until age 13 in 1970, aside from pick-up street hockey games with the neighborhood boys. He then led Randolph High School (Massachusetts) to three straight state tournament appearances in 1973, 1974 and 1975. He was also a standout quarterback for the Blue Devils and was one of the top football recruits in the nation. As a catcher on the Randolph High baseball team, Langway was considered a baseball pro-prospect. However, the top college football programs in the country had identified Langway as a future NFL quarterback. It was a football recruiter from the University of New Hampshire who convinced him to play college hockey at UNH, one of the few schools that would allow him to play both football and hockey in college, which he did without having to choose one over the other as an incoming freshman. Langway went on to lead UNH to the NCAA hockey final four in 1977. Ultimately hockey ended up being the direction for him as a professional career. He was inducted into the Randolph High and UNH Athletic Halls of Fame.
A left-handed shot, Langway was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL in 1977 and by the Birmingham Bulls of the WHA in the same year. He played one season for the Bulls (1977–78) before joining the Canadiens for the 1978–79 NHL season, and would win the Stanley Cup that year. He played for Montreal until he was traded to the Washington Capitals for the start of the 1982–83 season. The Capitals acquired Langway from the Canadiens in a blockbuster trade—going with Doug Jarvis, Craig Laughlin, and Brian Engblom in exchange for Ryan Walter and Rick Green—that not only saved the franchise from moving out of D.C., but also stocked them for an extended string of postseason appearances. After not making the playoffs in their first eight seasons in the league, the Capitals competed in the postseason in every one of the 11 years that Langway was with the team. Following that trade, the Capitals named Langway their captain, which he would hold for the next 11 seasons until his NHL retirement.
As captain, Langway became known as an accomplished leader who demanded greatness from himself and others, earning the nickname "Secretary of Defense". Many people considered him the franchise's savior, despite not being the sort of player that one would expect to prevent the club from moving. Langway's predecessors as Norris Trophy winners were the dominant defensemen of the 1970s, like Bobby Orr, Larry Robinson, and Denis Potvin, who had put up high scoring numbers. By contrast, Langway was a traditional defender whose shot was likened to a "cool summer breeze", scoring only three goals during one of his best seasons, though he is remembered by Capitals fans for a game–winning goal in overtime against the New York Rangers' Mike Richter in the 1990 playoffs. Despite his lack of offensive production, his excellence at his position was credited with significantly reducing the Capitals' goals against average, which enabled them to finally make the playoffs.
Langway won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman in both 1983 and 1984. He earned two postseason All-Star First Team selections and one Second Team selection as a defenseman—the first American NHL All-Star since Frank Brimsek in 1948. Langway finished runner-up to Wayne Gretzky for the Hart Memorial Trophy in 1984. He was also part of the NHL All-Star team that played the Soviet national hockey team in Rendez-Vous '87. Upon his retirement from the NHL in 1993, Langway was the last active player who won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens during their late-70s dynasty. In international hockey, he represented the United States in the 1981, 1984, and 1987 Canada Cup as well as the 1982 Ice Hockey World Championship tournaments.
Langway served as player-coach for the San Francisco Spiders during their single season as an IHL team in 1995–1996. Langway began his career before helmets were mandatory and was the only member of the Spiders who played without a helmet under a league grandfather clause. He played without a helmet even while he was playing for the Washington Capitals and was normally the only player on the ice who was not wearing a helmet; most players not having been grandfathered in to the requirement to wear a helmet.
Langway was also an assistant coach under Tom McVie with the American Hockey League's Providence Bruins during the 1997–98 season. He played in ten games that year to assist with on-ice development, during which time he was not granted an exemption to play without a helmet. Providence finished with a mere 19 victories that season, and Langway did not return the following year after McVie was reassigned to be a scout by the Boston organization.
During the 2003–04 season, Langway coached the Richmond Riverdogs expansion franchise in the United Hockey League to a division championship, and a first-round playoff loss to the Elmira Jackals. Team management did not extend Langway's contract after the first season.
Awards and accomplishmentsEdit
- Stanley Cup champion – 1979
- Norris Trophy: 1982–83, 1983–84
- NHL All-Star First Team: 1982–83, 1983–84
- NHL All-Star Second Team: 1984–85
- All-Star Game: 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986
- Canada Cup 1984 All-Star First Team
Langway's jersey number (#5) was retired by the Washington Capitals on November 26, 1997, and he was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999. His career was crowned with his election to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2012, he was inducted into the World Hockey Association Hall of Fame in the “Legends of the Game” category.
Regular season and playoffsEdit
|1972–73||Randolph High School||HS-MA||16||20||19||39||—||—||—||—||—|
|1973–74||Randolph High School||HS-MA||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1974–75||Randolph High School||HS-MA||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1975–76||University of New Hampshire||ECAC||31||3||13||16||10||—||—||—||—||—|
|1976–77||University of New Hampshire||ECAC||34||10||43||53||52||—||—||—||—||—|
|1978–79||Nova Scotia Voyageurs||AHL||18||6||13||19||29||—||—||—||—||—|
|1995–96||San Francisco Spiders||IHL||46||1||5||6||38||—||—||—||—||—|
- Biographical information and career statistics from Eliteprospects.com, or Hockey-Reference.com, or Legends of Hockey, or The Internet Hockey Database
- Rod Langway's profile @ Hockeydraftcentral.com
| Washington Capitals captain
| Winner of the Norris Trophy