BY John Packett
In 1975, Rod Langway was offered – and accepted – a football scholarship at the University of New Hampshire. He helped the Wildcats win the Yankee Conference title a year later.
Oh yeah. The guy could play a little hockey, too.
Langway, who won a Stanley Cup with Montreal and became the “Secretary of Defense” for the Washington Capitals, will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Monday.
The 45-year-old was also a player/coach for the Richmond Renegades’ Riley Cup champions in 1994-95 and still makes his home in Richmond.
“I had a ball that year with Richmond,” Langway said. “I had more fun with the Renegade kids than I did the last couple of years with the Capitals.”
Langway enjoyed himself in high school and college, too, before joining the NHL. He grew up in Randolph, Mass., where he played baseball, football and hockey.
“I was trying to find a school that would allow me to play [football and hockey],” Langway said. “Talking it over with my coaches, they said I was too young to decide on just one sport. The reason I went to UNH was because they promised me I could play both sports, and if I decided on one or the other sport, that sport would pick up my scholarship.”
Since the football team had 15 scholarships to offer and hockey only five, Langway entered UNH on a football grant and played one season. He played two years for the hockey team before being drafted in the second round by the Canadiens. He was also selected in the first round by the Birmingham Bulls (World Hockey Association).
“Two spring games and one season,” Langway said of his brief college football career, where he played outside linebacker.
Although he really liked football, it was hockey where Lang- way would make his name. After one season in the WHA, Langway joined the Canadiens, where he earned a Stanley Cup ring his first season (1978-79). He remained with Montreal until he was traded to the Capitals in 1982.
With his ability to shut down the opposition’s top players, Lang- way became known as the Secretary of Defense. He won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defender in 1983 and’84 while being voted a first-team all-star those two years. Langway played in seven All-Star games. He served as captain for the Capitals from 1982-83 to 1992-93.
“My role with the Capitals was more or less eliminating the best players [for the opposition],” Langway said. “Let’s say we were playing against [Paul] Coffey or [Mario] Lemieux. If we kept them off the scoreboard, our chances of winning went up quite a bit. If we kept them to one or two goals a game, we still had a shot.”
During his career with the Caps, Langway spent a lot of time on the ice with the likes of Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.
“Too much so,” said Langway, laughing. “It was a great challenge every game against them. You had a lot of pride when you did shut them down.”
Langway’s defensive contributions helped the Caps, which had never made the playoffs in the eight seasons before he arrived, qualify for the postseason every year he was there. He left the team midway through the’92-93 season when injuries began to limit his playing time.
“As a defensive specialist, I’m particularly gratified for this recognition,” said Langway, who spent all or parts of four seasons as an assistant with the Renegades and now works for Richmond Heat Treating, which services metals for machine shops in the area. His wife’s family owns the business and Langway is content to help them, as well as be a father to 6-month-old Maya Rose.
“If the right situation comes along, I might get back into coaching, but I’m happy doing what I’m doing here right now,” Langway said.