Friday, February 18, 2011

Hurricanes, Flyers to join in celebration of Brind'Amour

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Prior to Friday's game in Raleigh against the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Flyers, the Carolina Hurricanes will honor Rod Brind'Amour by officially retiring his Number 17.

Brind'Amour came to the franchise formerly known as the Hartford Whalers in a much-maligned (at the time) trade with goaltender Jean-Marc Pelletier and a second-round draft pick for Keith Primeau and a fifth-round pick on January 23, 2000.

“I felt real good about that trade, but you’re always concerned about it,” said Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford.

The 40-year-old Ottawa native, who was a first-round pick of the St. Louis Blues in the 1988 NHL draft, ended up playing for 20 NHL seasons (1989-2010) with the Blues, Flyers and Hurricanes. He racked up 452 goals and 1,184 points in 1,484 regular-season games, and also contributed 51 goals and 111 points in 159 playoff appearances.

A durable presence committed to fitness, Brind'Amour participated in a full slate of NHL games on seven different occasions, and suited up for at least 80 games in a season 10 times.

Though voted an All-Star just once -- in 1992 when he was the lone Flyers representative to the mid-season game at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Brind'Amour nevertheless set the tone with his solid two-way play that was only recognized late in his career with back-to-back Selke Trophies in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

After being a key cog in the wheel of the Flyers's resurgence in the middle 1990s, Brind'Amour then was key in establishing an identity for the Hurricanes franchise, which had only arrived from Hartford three seasons prior. He came to the club in its first year playing in Raleigh after two seasons in Greensboro and almost immediately put his stamp on the locker room with his work ethic and leadership.

It all finally paid off as Brind'Amour, now as team captain, was instrumental in bringing the Stanley Cup to North Carolina in 2006 after an unsuccessful Cup Finals appearance in 2002. The Hurricanes topped Montreal, New Jersey, Buffalo and Edmonton to reach the summit of the profession, under current Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette five years ago.

"When you win, there's nothing greater than that, and there's no better way to be remembered," Brind'Amour said at a press conference earlier this week. "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."

Despite a solid role as a second-line winger with more of a passing touch than scoring prowess, the man tabbed "Rod the Bod" was a subject of trade rumors virtually every season he played with the Orange and Black. It finally came to fruition in January of 2000, amidst lurid rumors (and still unsubstantiated claims) of his wife and Eric Lindros engaged in some extra-curricular activities.

At the time, it was unthinkable to deal away one of the most popular and dedicated players in Flyers history, and one who had returned the previous month from being out for the season's first eight weeks with a broken foot. It was questioned even more since Primeau had not played at all to that point in the season, embroiled in a contract dispute with Carolina where he made it clear he would not return to play for the club.

“I was pretty devastated,” he recalled. “At the time, I bled orange and black.”

However, with Lindros diagnosed with the first in a series of infamous concussions the week prior, Bob Clarke pulled the trigger on the deal. It took roughly two months to see the wisdom of the transaction, once Lindros' way out from the Flyers was paved by a severe concussion suffered in early March. It wasn't until four years later, when Primeau put together a monster 2004 playoffs, that the trade from the Philadelphia end was fully justified.

Brind'Amour completed his Flyers career with 235 goals and 601 points in 633 regular-season games and set a still-standing franchise record for playing 484 consecutive games. He still ranks ninth in total scoring in franchise history. He ended up tied for 12th in all-time playoff scoring with 51 points in 57 games, and may be most notable for tallying a club-high three goals during a four-game sweep defeat at the hands of Detroit in the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals. That playoff season, which ended with so much unfulfilled promise, saw Brind'Amour -- and not Lindros or John LeClair -- lead the club with 13 scores.

The very next season, he unofficially wore the "C" when Lindros was forced to miss more than a month in March and April with a Grade 3 concussion supplied by a Darius Kasparaitis elbow. Even with the extra burden, Rod kept the club afloat with 36 goals and 74 points.

In Carolina, Brindy will be immortalized in the rafters of RBC Center alongside franchise icon and assistant coach Ron Francis (#10), and long-time Whalers and 'Canes defenseman Glen Wesley (#2).

Over 10-plus seasons with the Hurricanes, the Campbell River, British Columbia-raised forward compiled 217 goals and 583 points in 851 games. In 72 playoff games, he totaled 18 goals and 38 points.Rod Brind'Amour Red Reebok NHL Premier Carolina Hurricanes Jersey

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