I can admit now that during my first 10 years in this job, these four words made me cringe, just a little:
“Can we get Brind’Amour?”
If I took a deep breath after hearing that request from the media, whether between periods for a walk-off or after the game in the locker room, it was not at all because Rod Brind’Amour had a problem with media. The problem was, in order to get him in front of the cameras, I had to walk into his place of business, and take him away from his work.
It meant that I had to stop one of the most focused competitors in sports during his march off the ice and into the locker room between periods. Instead of conducting his rigid intermission routine, I would be dragging him into the hallway to put on a headset.
Or it meant that I had to walk into the bike room to see a man who had just played 30 minutes of ice time in the middle of sweating through a routine that would make most of us pass out. And I would have to ask him to get off the bike.
I am in no way trying to downplay or belittle the routines or workouts of other players who have worn our logo in the last decade. But I doubt anyone would take offense. Rod’s routines are legendary because the legends were true. We’ve had other players known for their epic work ethics – Arturs Irbe and Martin Gelinas stand out from the earlier days in Carolina – but even those players would admit that Rod set the ultimate standard.
The contradiction in the media challenge that Rod presented for me was that he was actually outstanding with the media. Once in front of the cameras, Rod was a terrific interview – engaging, honest and personable. He was a straight shooter, too. If the team had a bad night, he wouldn’t give an excuse, or point out some positive. He would say we were bad, and we have to get better. That’s one of the many qualities that made Rod a great leader and a winner.
And once his media obligations were complete, he would of course head right back into the gym.
These days, it’s a lot easier to get Rod to do an interview. He’s filled countless requests over the last few weeks without a complaint, despite the fact that it pains him to have to talk about himself. Nonetheless, he’ll do just that, in front of about 19,000 witnesses and a national television audience, around 7:09 p.m. on Friday night.
I don’t think I’ll be the only one hiding tissues in my pocket Friday, just in case. There’s just a very special connection that anyone associated with the Carolina Hurricanes – from management to former teammates to fans – feels with Rod Brind’Amour, the man who led this team to our state’s first major league championship. Ron Francis brought us credibility. Glen Wesley gave us stability. Eric Staal may be our biggest star. But Rod Brind’Amour is the Carolina Hurricanes. Beyond the heart, passion, dedication and leadership he gave to North Carolina’s hockey team, he also represents the Hurricane Way so perfectly off the ice, with his selflessness, character and dedication to the community.
That’s why his night on Friday may be the most emotional ever in the RBC Center, save maybe June 19, 2006, when he became the first in franchise history to raise the Stanley Cup. Rod Brind’Amour is truly the ultimate model Hurricane.
Just don’t try to ask him to get off the bike.
Media Alerts: He’s already done a lot, and I’ll continue posting these on Twitter as they come in, but a few key notes over the next few days:
- NHL Live: Brind’Amour will guest on NHL Live on Thursday at 12:10 p.m., which airs on NHL Network, NHL.com, XM 204 and Sirius 208. Don LaGreca and E.J. Hradek are hosting.
- David Glenn Show: Rod will visit the David Glenn Show live-in studio at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday. The David Glenn Show is syndicated in markets all over North Carolina, but can be heard locally on 99.9 The Fan. You can tune in online here.
- Adam Gold and Joe Ovies: Gold and Ovies will have Rod in studio as well, for an interview to air during their show on Friday on 99.9 The Fan. Gold and Ovies will dedicate the 5:00 hour of their show that day to Brind’Amour, with guests including Rod, John Forslund, Chuck Kaiton, Kevyn Adams, Bret Hedican, Mike Emrick and more. Listen online here.
- NHL Network will show FOX Sports Carolinas’ coverage of Rod Brind’Amour Night live in the United States. Coverage begins at 7 p.m.