Rod Brind'Amour was never not going to be the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes next season and beyond.
It was just a matter of putting pen to paper to make it official, which Brind'Amour and President and General Manager Don Waddell did in the Canes' locker room on Thursday morning.
"And the contract has been signed!" a jovial Waddell said, as he held up Brind'Amour's freshly inked three-year contract extension with the Canes.
It was never really a question of if it would happen, but rather when. Waddell even said as much in an interview more than two months ago.
"[Waddell] knew I wanted to be a part of this, and I knew he wanted me to be a part of it, too," Brind'Amour said in a virtual media availability on Thursday. "It's a special day for me because I know I'm going to be here for a few more years, at least."
PHOTOS: BRIND'AMOUR SIGNS CONTRACT EXTENSION
Part of what dragged out the suspense for other hopelessly hopeful teams and fanbases was that Brind'Amour wanted to ensure his staff - from assistant coaches to medical personnel to equipment managers - was taken care of, as well.
This should come as no surprise given Brind'Amour's commitment to family and making that a core tenet of the Canes' organizational culture.
His support staff - especially in such an insular season during which outside contact was limited - is part of that family.
"We have a special group down here," Brind'Amour explained. "For me to do this job to the best of my ability, it's important to have the right people around me."
Video: "It was just a matter of time, really."
In three seasons behind the bench, Brind'Amour has earned a 120-66-30 record, and his .631 points percentage is the best in franchise history. He guided the Canes back to the postseason for the first time in a decade in 2018-19 and is the only head coach in franchise history to lead the team to the playoffs in three consecutive seasons.
In the 2020-21 season, in which Brind'Amour was named one of three finalists for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year, the Canes finished with a 36-12-8 record and 80 points in 56 games. The Canes won the Central Division, the team's first divisional title since 2005-06, and came within three points of winning the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history.
On March 4, Brind'Amour captured his 100th win as head coach in his 173rd game, becoming the fastest to reach the century mark in franchise history and the 12th fastest in NHL history.
It's hard to argue with those kinds of results in just three seasons. It's a testament to his ability to mold his thinking and approach to the modern game.
"The game is a little bit different from when he played, and it's also different than it was three years ago. The coaches who are able to stay in the league are able to adapt," said Justin Williams, once Brind'Amour's teammate, then captain of his team and now an advisor to the GM. "He's not a guy who is just, 'This is me. This is the way we're doing it.' He's able to adapt, and that's why he's going to be successful for a long time."
Video: Rod Brind'Amour signed three-year contract extension.
Brind'Amour's success as head coach is also a testament to his tireless work ethic and his dedication to the team and organization. As captain, he led this team to a Stanley Cup championship in 2006. Now 15 years later, he's looking to do it again.
"You're invested. As a coach, you put the plan in and watch your guys go after it," he said. "You're invested with them. That's what you can't get anywhere else doing anything else. I think I'll always have the fire to do that."
Doing this job elsewhere was never really something that interested Brind'Amour, who has made Raleigh his home.
"His face is really synonymous with the Hurricanes," Williams said. "The bar has been raised here, and the team has been successful, but not obviously satisfied with where we're at. We're getting there. We're relevant. We're respected."
As Waddell said of Brind'Amour, "He's a Hurricane."
And he's right.
"I would have a hard time thinking I could do the same job I'm doing here somewhere else because this is a part of me. This place, I've been here forever. It's more about the people I get to come to work with every day, and that wouldn't be the case somewhere else. It just wouldn't be. It's special to me," Brind'Amour said. "We have a special group of players here, and that's something I didn't want to leave. It just didn't ever really enter my mind that I would leave because of what we have going on here. I want to see it through, and we still have another level to get to. That's the mission."