Jim Langlois was a cherished member of the University hockey family for over 30 years, a proud husband, father, and grandfather, and an ultimate communicator. “Lango,” as many called the Assistant Coach, suddenly passed away at the age of 70 on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016.
In this somber time, Athletic Director Mike Whalen offered his thoughts on one of the University’s finest, most tenured individuals.
“Coach Langlois has been associated with our men’s and women’s hockey program for over 35 years,” Whalen wrote in an email to The Argus. “He has been a tremendous role model for our student-athletes and he will be missed. Coach Lango touched the lives of so many of our student-athletes and his passion for Wesleyan hockey was felt by everyone associated with the program.”
In last weekend’s 3-2 victory over Amherst, there was a moment of silence before the game for Langlois, and Coach Potter got stickers with Coach Lango’s initials for each of the players’ helmets.
Langlois started his Cardinal career manning the women’s hockey program from 1980-1984, before transitioning to an assistant coach position with the men’s team in 1985. When current Head Coach Chris Potter arrived in Middletown for the 2003-2004 season, no promises were made about keeping the previous staff on board.
“When I first took the job 13 years ago, Jimmy had been with the program for a long time already, and I was the new guy coming in,” Potter said. “Sometimes, the new guy just wants to break away from everything that was old, but the first time I sat with Jimmy, I just felt comfortable that he had a wealth of knowledge and a good perspective on where the program has been and where we wanted to take it.”
Langlois will be most remembered for his ever-present laughter, straight-shooter mentality, and potent slap shot, despite being a septuagenarian. Potter took the time to discuss what he will miss most about Lango.
“His infectious nature,” Potter quickly replied. “He just had a laugh that everyone recognized him by. All the alums that I speak with, that played with him, they always bring up Jimmy’s laugh. In addition, there was always straight-talk from Jimmy. If there was something on his mind that was possibly, completely against what you were thinking, he definitely wasn’t afraid to share it. We’ve had some good arguments in [the locker room] between the assistant coaches and myself about different things, but it’s all healthy stuff. When you have three different thoughts, you have three different ideas, and that was very good. Jim’s strong passion and his willingness to speak his mind is what I thought was most important about him.”
If you didn’t know that Lango was a crafty character with jokes always up his sleeve, then you didn’t really know the man.
“Coach Langlois was a really special man in multiple aspects,” added Captain Eric Casey ’16. “From a hockey perspective, [Jim Langlois] was simply someone everyone loved to see each day at the rink. He always had a joke to crack or a way to make someone smile. Even after getting a dose of his criticism you could expect some humor to lighten the mood.”
Captain Jay Matthews ’16 chimed in with some eloquent thoughts on his former coach.
“He dedicated so many years to this program and we will all remember our time with him,” Matthews said. “I’m sure it would be nearly impossible to find a current or former player that doesn’t have an amazing story about Coach Langlois. I was fortunate to play for him for four years; he was a one of a kind coach and I will miss being able to spend time with him every day.”
Adding onto Langlois’ immense contributions toward the University hockey lineage, it should not be forgotten that the coach devoted 47 hard-working years to the cement industry. He spent his remaining free time on his family, golf, and of course, more hockey. Lango strived to help youth players develop while coaching in the Middlesex Youth Hockey Program and at Choate Rosemary Hall.
“Of the things that we always used to give him a hard time about was golf,” Potter said. “He loved to golf and was constantly ordering golf equipment. He recently had a couple of grandkids, which was really important to him, and he was starting to spend a lot of time with his son and his grandchildren. He always managed to keep pretty busy.”
Langlois was also an avid golfer and tied for third at the 19th Super Senior Championship at Heritage Village Country Club last August in Southbury, Conn. In remembrance of his ardent passion for golf, the family asks that instead of flowers, donations be made to The First Tee of Connecticut. The club symbolizes Langlois’ ideologies, as it attempts to provide life skills and leadership to the youth through 20 golf facilities and 147 schools throughout the state.
The University hockey program, in conjunction with the athletic department, is working toward creating a just memorial for Lango.
“We had the game right after what happened against Amherst, and the coaches with [Athletic Director] Mike Whalen [’83] have sat down,” Potter said. “It’s definitely something that I want to make sure is a long-term thing rather than a short-term memorial. I think I’ll give it some time and have conversations with different people to see how we all feel, whether it’s a golf tournament for the program or a tournament around Christmas time where we play two teams and call it the Jim Langlois Tournament. I don’t know yet what we feel is the best route, but we will definitely do something for sure.”
Jim Langlois is survived by his loving wife, son Bart and daughter-in-law Kate, their two children, and several nieces and nephews. Even if you never knew him, the next time you crack a joke, think of Lango.