Also see our daily video countdown of Brind'Amour's Top 5 Moments as a Hurricane.
On the topic of how he wants to be remembered, Rod Brind’Amour doesn’t have much to say.
He was never going to mention individual accomplishments, including the fact that just 15 players in the history of the NHL have played more games than his 1,484, or that he ranks in or near the top 50 in goals, assists and points. Those who know him know that’s not his style.
Still, one might have expected him to say something more general about how hard he worked or how he played through pain or that he always backed up his words when it mattered. When faced with the question ahead of tonight’s ceremony, it seems he’d rather leave that to the rest of us.
“The people that mean the most to me are my kids and my wife,” he said. “What they think of me is most important.
“I’m grateful that I’m remembered at all.”
On the contrary, tonight’s ceremony ensures that he won’t be forgotten. One need only look to the RBC Center’s rafters for a reminder. However, another good place to look would be in a suite overlooking the ice during a game. Brind’Amour’s playing career may be over, but he’s not going anywhere. Contrary to what he may have thought in those reluctant first few days as a Hurricane, 11 years later, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“That was the most important thing for me,” he said, referring to his decision to accept a player development role with the Hurricanes. “I was still in good shape and part of me wanted to prove that I could still play, but that meant that I’d have to end my career somewhere else and I didn’t want to do that.”
Brind’Amour won’t be improving his place in the franchise record books now that he’s in the front office, but the hope is that he can help others achieve them. Along with Ron Francis and Glen Wesley, the two men whose numbers went to the rafters prior to tonight, and Tom Barrasso, an assistant coach who will works with young goaltenders, he’s now part of a star-studded player development team with credentials that few organizations can match.
“For all three of those guys, when I was deciding to bring them into the organization after they retired, I knew what they were like as people more than just players,” said General Manager Jim Rutherford. “Character and leadership translate into those roles.”
Brind’Amour first took to the ice as a coach in the preseason and has been working with the team’s top prospects in Charlotte throughout the season. Although he defined the term veteran late in his career, he’s admittedly still a rookie when it comes to the other side of things.
“I enjoy it,” he said. “I get to come to all the games and listen and take in as much as I can. I’m still in the learning process, but I’m enjoying it.”
As with the other players-turned-executives that have remained with the Hurricanes organization, Brind’Amour entered the business side of the equation without a clear idea of what he wanted to do. Though things seem to be going well so far, he’s still not 100 percent clear on where this path will take him as he balances his still-burning passion for hockey with the benefits of retirement from the ice.
"I don’t want to ever say I don’t want to do this or that, because I don’t know where I’m going to end up,” he said. “I know there’s a competitive side of you that wants to have some sort of impact, but I’m also enjoying my time to do things with my kids that I never got to do.”
When speaking of his current role, he uses the same type of modesty often heard when he describes his accomplishments as a player. Those who see his work firsthand are more than happy to fill in the blanks.
“Everybody I’ve talked to just raves about him,” said coach Paul Maurice. “He seems to be really comfortable in his role and he’s got a great insight. One of the nice parts about having somebody in your organization who’s already had a tremendous amount of success and is known to be hard-working is that they don’t come in with an agenda. All they want to do is help the team win. It’s such an honest way to work, and that’s Roddy’s personality.”
Whatever Brind’Amour’s future holds, those sad to see him end his playing career can take comfort in the fact that he won’t be far away. Even if he’s not in the spotlight, he’ll be behind the scenes helping those who are.
In that sense, tonight’s ceremony won’t be a goodbye. It will be a celebration as one chapter ends and another begins.
“We’ve seen what Rod has done for the organization as a player,” said Rutherford. “From what I’ve seen since he joined the front office, his contributions to this franchise are far from over.”