RALEIGH—After 10 illustrious seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes, Rod Brind’Amour’s jersey was retired tonight at the RBC Center. Never again will a Hurricane wear the number 17.
Following the retiring of Brind’Amour’s number, the Hurricanes defeated the Flyers by the score of 3-2. Erik Cole notched the game-winning goal with 3:03 remaining in the third period.
Even more so than usual, tonight’s atmosphere in Raleigh was electrifying. Following Cole’s game winner, the sell out crowd of 18,726 stood on their feet for the remainder of regulation, cheering on their hometown team with an inspiring level of jubilation.
Thousands of attendees, whether they supported Carolina or Philadelphia, donned Brind’Amour jerseys. The former Hurricane and Flyer received multiple standing ovations during his pre-game ceremony, as fans showed appreciation for one of the best competitors the game of hockey has ever seen.
It was only fitting that tonight’s opponent was the Flyers. Brind’Amour played a large portion of his career in Philadelphia, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals as a Broadstreet Bully in 1997.
“[The Flyers] meant a lot to me,” Brind’Amour said. “It was nice that they chose this night for the ceremony.”
Always known as a gym rat, “Roddy” was one of the most durable players in the NHL, holding a Flyer record for 484 consecutive games played. He played in 1,484 total NHL contests, more than all but five players in league history.
Over the course of his career, Brind’Amour was a symbol of loyalty. Originally drafted ninth overall by the St. Louis Blues, the Ottawa native played over 600 games with two different franchises (694 for Carolina, 613 for Philadelphia). Only three other players have accomplished this feat.
Above all, Brind’Amour will be remembered for bringing the first and only Stanley Cup victory to Carolina. Five short years ago, the former captain hoisted Lord Stanley’s trophy on the very same ice he stood on tonight. Brind’Amour scored 12 goals throughout the 2006 playoffs, more than anyone else that year.
During the time he served as captain of the Hurricanes, Brind’Amour personified what it meant to be a leader.
“He practiced the right way, he prepared the right way, he trained the right way, and he played with passion and purpose,” former head coach Peter Laviolette said. “He set an example of everything a player should be.”
On the ice, very few players mastered their position better than Brind’Amour. Throughout his career, he was the epitome of a two-way center, giving his full effort at both ends of the ice. “Roddy” won two Selke trophies, an award given to the best defensive forward in the league. Offensively, he complied 1,184 total points in his 20 years in the NHL, good for 46th all time. It was his complete game, not just his offensive prowess, that helped bring a championship to Raleigh.
Despite his undeniable natural ability, Brind’Amour adamantly credits his devotion to the game for his success.
“To me, [my work ethic] was the thing that was going to make me the player that I was,” he said. “At 12 or 13-years-old I started working harder than everyone else because I wanted to be better. I can always be the best at working and be in the best shape. Those are things I can control.”
Brind’Amour’s enthusiasm, dedication, and resolve was contagious, rubbing off on nearly everyone he interacted with. This includes Eric Staal, his successor as Carolina’s captain.
“He’s one of the hardest working guys to ever play the game,” said Staal. “When you watch hockey as a kid, for me I knew the type of player Rod was and that he was a hard-nosed, hard-working player on the ice, but you don’t know the intangibles behind it. That I learned firsthand just watching as an 18-year-old. It’s pretty phenomenal.”
In closing, Brind’Amour offered a simple piece of advice to those who are still fortunate enough to play hockey for a living.
“Holy Mackinaw. Just enjoy what you’re doing,” he said. “This is the best time of your life.”