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Fittingly Brind'Amour's big night comes vs. Flyers

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

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Fittingly Brind'Amour's big night comes vs. Flyers
Rod Brind'Amour became an icon in Carolina hockey history, and he'll receive a fitting honor Friday when his No. 17 jersey is raised to the RBC Center roof prior to a game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
You get the feeling Rod Brind'Amour would prefer a workout bench, a couple of dumbbells and perhaps a treadmill by his side Friday when he becomes the third player in the history of the Carolina Hurricanes to have his number retired.

After all, he wasn't nicknamed "Rod the Bod" for nothing.

"This guy worked so hard off the ice, I got tired just watching him," Hall of Famer Ron Francis, a teammate with the Hurricanes, told "He brought that work ethic to the rink every time he stepped on the ice. You knew he was going to compete and give you everything he had. To do that, day in and day out, over your career is not an easy thing. It's a tough challenge and he met it head on and made it look easy."

Added Keith Jones, a teammate with the Philadelphia Flyers: "With Roddy, it was all about his commitment to the game. Maximizing his abilities by his hard work in the weight room, on the ice and in practice -- he was relentless in his pursuit to get better."

While Brind'Amour won't be pumping any iron Friday -- not during the ceremony, at least -- rest assured his adrenaline will be pumping while he watches his No. 17 banner raised to the rafters prior to Carolina's game against the Philadelphia Flyers at RBC Center.

Brind'Amour, drafted by the Blues with the ninth pick of the 1988 Entry Draft, finished his career with 452 goals and 732 assists in 1,484 regular-season games spanning 20 seasons with St. Louis, Philadelphia and Carolina. He announced his retirement in June.

His jersey retirement will be the third by the Hurricanes, after Glen Wesley (2) and Francis (10).

Brind'Amour said he was 12 years old when his father purchased him his first set of plastic weights and he'd get up early in the morning and train for a half-hour each day.

"My dad had a tough job, he was a pipefitter, and he always told me to do something different than the next kid, because he didn't want me ending up doing what he was for a living," Brind'Amour said. "From then on, I said I would have to work harder than the next guy and if I gave it everything I had, I wouldn't have any excuses if things didn't work out. That was my mentality when I played and trained and I took it pretty serious every day when I was a player in this League."

After starting his career in St. Louis, Brind'Amour spent nine seasons with the Flyers. He wouldn't finish that ninth season in Philadelphia, however, as he was dealt to the Hurricanes on Jan. 23, 2000. Brind'Amour said it was one of the toughest days of his career.

"The day I got traded from Philadelphia was one of the worst days of my career," he said. "Up until that point, I bled orange and black. It was an extremely tough time for me to leave that place because I loved it so much. They've got tremendously loyal fans there that every player, if there's a list of a couple teams they wish they could play on, Philadelphia's always at the top of that list because of the organization and because of the following and the reception that you get there. They keep you on your toes and they keep you honest, but they're always there for you, and I think that says a lot about that Flyer fan base."

In nine seasons with the Flyers, he had 235 goals and 601 points in 633 games. He also played a Flyers-record 484 consecutive games. In fact, the 1999-2000 season saw his ironman streak come to an end due to a broken foot, and 12 games into his return, he was traded to Carolina.

The move worked out pretty well, as Brind'Amour led the Hurricanes to a pair of trips to the Stanley Cup Final, and was the first in team history to raise the Cup when he captained the team to the 2006 championship. Since the franchise relocated from Hartford to North Carolina in July 1997, he's second all-time in points (473 in 694 games), first in assists (299) and shorthanded goals (10), and third in goals (174) and power-play goals (60).

"He was a Hall of Fame player for our organization, clearly," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice told "How that meshes with all the other greats in the NHL is for other people to decide. But when you look at changes in a franchise, from when I originally got here in 1995 when we hadn't produced a winning month in four years, to a team that eventually won a conference championship, a Stanley Cup and made a final-four appearance, that's the impact Rod had."

Brind'Amour was named the 'Canes' captain prior to the 2005-06 season and produced 31 goals and 70 points that season while leading the club to a franchise-record 52 wins. His 12 playoff goals during the team's Stanley Cup run also set a franchise record.

"I wish I could say that I tried harder and did more in the playoffs, but that's just not the case," Brind'Amour said. "I think it's more a reflection of the people around me at playoff time and them picking up their game, which elevated mine. I know that the games that were more important, you want to do better and there's that will to achieve more."

Peter Laviolette, who coached Brind'Amour during Carolina's Cup run, considers him a future Hall of Famer.

"I think the world of him, not only as player, but a person," Laviolette said. "He exemplifies everything you would want in a captain. When he grabbed that Cup it was special for him and special for everybody else that watched him do it.

"Do I think he's a Hall of Famer? I believe he is."

The relationship between coach and player wasn't always this cordial, however.

"When Peter first got here, our relationship wasn't that good," Brind'Amour said. "He didn't know any of the players and he was new to this area. But following the lockout year, he was a totally different coach and our relationship really blossomed. He named me captain and basically gave me every opportunity I could have as a player. I played 23-24 minutes a game and in every situation and ultimately, through his leadership, we won that Stanley Cup.

"I think you see it in Philly now. He gets the most out of his players and he gets it in a way where everyone feels a part of it. It's not the X's and O's, it's not dissecting plays. It's getting his players to believe and care for each other and that's what he did (in Carolina)."

Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford, the man responsible for bringing him to the Hurricanes, is looking forward to celebrating Brind'Amour's career.

"When Rod came to our organization, he was coming off a broken foot, so I can remember right from Day 1 to the last day the impact he's had," Rutherford said. "Really, there are so many players who played a huge role for us in winning the Stanley Cup and I know Cam (Ward) won the Conn Smythe Trophy and I agree with that pick, but there were times throughout those playoffs that, without Rod Brind'Amour, we didn't have a chance.

"Rod scored many big goals, won key faceoffs, killed penalties; it's pretty hard to go through the whole list of what he's done for us because the impact he had in our organization will last a lifetime."

Brind'Amour played in 159 career Stanley Cup playoff games, totaling 51 goals and 60 assists. He participated in the Stanley Cup Final three times, reaching the Final in 1997 with Philadelphia and 2002 and '06 with Carolina.

He was named Carolina's director of forwards development in September.

"When you win, there's nothing greater than that, and there's no better way to be remembered," Brind'Amour said. "I know that I'll be remembered as a Hurricane, and that image I guess of me being able to hold that Cup is something that, around here, is quite etched in stone. This is my home now, so I realize that and I'm just grateful that I'm remembered at all, to be honest with you."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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