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Brind'Amour back in Carolina lineup

Wednesday, 12.09.2009 / 3:07 PM / NHL Insider

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- After being announced as a healthy scratch on Monday for the first time in nine seasons as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, Rod Brind'Amour was told he'd resume his duties at center against the New Jersey Devils Wednesday at Prudential Center.

Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice will sit Sergei Samsonov (lower body injury) for the first time this season in order to make room for Brind'Amour, Carolina's captain, who wasn't in the lineup for a 3-2 victory over the Penguins Monday.

Maurice and Carolina General Manager Jim Rutherford said the decision to bench Brind'Amour was strictly a hockey decision and nothing else.

"Roddy is a really good pro, so it wasn't an overly long discussion (when informing him about the team's decision)," Maurice said. "I just told him about it at the morning skate (on Monday) and that was the end of it. It's difficult because you're talking about a player who always does the things you ask of him. He prepares himself physically and mentally and he doesn't make any mistakes with that."

Brind'Amour, 39, was hampered by knee surgery early last season and was held out of two games in February because of a groin injury. But upon his return, he was extremely productive and played a big part in the Hurricanes scintillating run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Rod comes and competes, but for the first time this year we had all healthy options up front with 13 of them," Maurice said. "It was not an easy decision to make but at the same time, those things happen."

But Brind'Amour, who won the Selke Trophy as the League's best defensive forward in 2006 and '07, finished a minus-23 last season. He's at a League-worst minus-19 through 28 games this campaign.

Despite that fact, his Carolina teammates, every one of them surprised by the benching, have his back in the locker room.

"It was a surprise, but it's something you just try and block out -- try not to think about too much because, eventually, it happens to everybody," Hurricanes forward Scott Walker told NHL.com. "It makes no difference if it happens down the road or now, but the thing is for a guy with his storied career, it was tough to see. But we put ourselves in this position (with a 7-17-5 record) and left ourselves open to management making changes. Whether that be in the form of trades or sitting guys out, we're victims of our own problems here."

Hurricanes alternate captain Eric Staal knows Brind'Amour will be raring to go.

"It was hard to see because he's been our leader and led us to a championship," Staal said. "He's the hardest-working guy I've ever played with, so all those things combined, it's tough to see, but he's back in the lineup now and he'll be ready to go. I'm sure he'll have a little extra hop in his step and hopefully we can get the 'W'."

Walker, who has also struggled this season with 2 goals and 4 points in 21 games, knows Brind'Amour will rebound.

"He's a strong player -- one of those strong-willed guys who never wants to miss a game," he said. "He's dealt with adversity before. I guess most of the guys around here were in shock to see him out on Monday. I think you just have to continue to work hard and be prepared for anything in this League."

Contact Mike Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com


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