Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rod Brind'Amour Retires After 21 Seasons

By: Tim Brennan

One day prior to the free agency bonanza, veteran center Rod Brind'Amour announced his retirement from the sport of hockey. He will accept a position in the Carolina Hurricanes front office.

Brind'Amour finishes his career ranked 16th in the National Hockey League in games played (1,484), 44th in assists (732), 46th in points (1,184) and 54th in goals (452) while playing for St. Louis, Philadelphia and Carolina. Along with that, the ninth overall draft choice in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues claimed two Selke Trophies for best defensive forward and captained the Carolina Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup in 2006.

Known as a leader, a penalty kill specialist and an ace in the face-off circle, Brind'Amour's strongest asset was his high level of physical conditioning. Throughout the course of his career, Brind'Amour ranked among the top of the league in ice time and could always be found in the gym before and after a game or on a day off, thus he was given the moniker "Rod the Bod".

The Ottawa, Ontario native started out in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues, joining the team during the 1989 playoffs. Brind'Amour came over from the college ranks at Michigan State and impressed the team in his five game debut with the Blues by scoring on his first shot. Brind'Amour finished third on the team in goals and would go on to be named to the NHL's All-Rookie team in 1990 after posting 26 goals and 35 assists for 61 points in 79 games. Getting prepared for his third season in St. Louis, Brind'Amour was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers along with center Dan Quinn for center Ron Sutter and defenseman Murray Baron.

Brind'Amour's impact on the Flyers was immense, compiling 235 goals and 366 assists for 601 points in 633 games in the orange and the black. Due to his hard work ethic and leadership, Brind'Amour became a fan favorite in Philadelphia and was selected to play in the 1992 NHL All Star Game. A testament to his conditioning and willingness to play through pain, Brind'Amour set the Flyers franchise record for consecutive games played by appearing in 484 games. During his time in Philadelphia, the two way center would develop his reputation as a top notch player on both sides of the puck. His ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup were within his grasp during the 1997 playoffs as the Flyers scorched past Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the New York Rangers in 5 games apiece in route to a conference championship and matchup against the Detroit Red Wings. Although the Flyers would get swept by the Red Wings, Brind'Amour kept Philadelphia in Game 3 after a pair of power play goals tied the game up at 2 apiece. Brind'Amour also scored 13 goals and 21 points during that post-season, making those career highs for him. So Rod would have to wait for another opportunity to finally get his name engraved.

The shocking news of Brind'Amour's trade to Carolina halfway through the 1999-2000 contest rang through Philadelphia as one of their favorites was sent away in exchange for center Keith Primeau. His impact on Philadelphia was tremendous, but he would become a legend for the Hurricanes. At the time of his retirement, Brind'Amour is the career leader in points for the Hurricanes with 473, ranks first in assists (299), shorthanded goals (10), third in goals (174) and third in power-play goals (60). He helped the Hurricanes reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002, where they would play the Detroit Red Wings. During those playoffs, the "BBC" line of Brind'Amour, Bates Battaglia and Erik Cole, was formed and became the most famous line in Hurricanes history. Rod's second chance at a championship were squandered as the Canes would eventually lose to the Red Wings in 5 games.

After a few seasons in Raleigh, Brind'Amour was named Carolina's captain prior to the 2005-06 season. The captain led by example by scoring 31 goals and earning 39 assists for 70 points and aided the team to a franchise record 52 wins. The elusive championship that Brind'Amour had been trying to claim finally came in 2006 as the Hurricanes defeated the surprise Edmonton Oilers in 7 games. He scored 12 goals during the Cup run, which are a franchise record. The moment at which he lifted the Cup with a feeling of exuberance is one I along with fans of Brind'Amour will never forget.

In the three seasons following the Cup win, Brind'Amour tallied 82 and two 51 point campaigns. Last season was a troubling one for the 39 year old, as his role was limited to an average of 11 minutes a game and he was stripped of his captaincy in favor of the team's star player Eric Staal. Brind'Amour scored nine goals and added 10 assists for 19 points in his final season while placing third in the NHL in face-off percentage and unfortunately had a league worst -29 plus/minus rating.

Like a true professional, Brind'Amour never complained when the C was taken off his jersey and pressed on during a difficult final chapter in his hockey career. Brind'Amour will always be remembered by Flyers and Hurricanes fans alike for being one of the most important players in their team's history and being a great role model.

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